Sabbatical?

Bless me Father, it has been three months since my last confession.  Forgive me please?  (My Catholic upbringing surfaces at the weirdest times!)  Or maybe we can just say I was on Sabbatical.  Artists are notoriously moody, say some people.  I’m not sure that’s true–or appropriate under the circumstances.  After all, this was my first Sabbatical in ten years.  Heck, I’m not even sure I can call myself an artist at this point.

However, I am sure of one thing:  when people create something they like to call “art”, they desperately want to share it, unless they fall into a very small category of Hermit Artists (I’ve only known one in person).  Trouble is, in sharing their creations with others, artists become vulnerable to failure of reception, even rejection.  Take me, for instance.  Ten years working hard toward greatness, not there yet, not even close– must be due to a lack of talent.  That no-talent suspicion caught up with me last December.  I didn’t stop all creating.  I slowed down, and I didn’t feel much like sharing any of it online.  It didn’t seem important anymore.  I considered becoming a Hermit Artist. That is still an option.

Two other changes have impacted my ability to blog:  First, I’m working the tax season at H&R Block, preparing tax returns.  When I was still practicing law, preparing tax returns was what I did to relax–it was nice to have a moderately challenging puzzle to put together and call it complete.  But the hours working are hours I can’t create either art or blog entries.

Second, I’m obsessed with solving a problem faced by all artists–display opportunities.  East Colony Fine Art is virtually kaput, although we will go out with gusto, putting on a final Petals to Paint at LaBelle Winery in Bedford, sometime in April.  We (East Colony) couldn’t keep our gallery open because the artists had to cover expenses such as rent and utilities, but, after nine years of experience, it became clear that the sales were not sufficient to justify the expense for artists, not all of whom had trust funds to support them.   Something was fundamentally wrong with that whole model.  Artists should not have to pay to display their works, however much they crave to do so.  The display of artworks–not only those by famous artists in museums but also those by the local artists–benefits the community.   Such public benefits should be supported by public means.  I am working on a model (working on it only in my head so far), and am investigating grant possibilities.  Just don’t have enough time right now to formulate a concrete proposal.

Meanwhile, to pick up where we left off in December, perhaps you would like to see what became of the Work in Progress I was calling “After the Wedding”.  It is currently to be known as “Two Takes.”

Two Takes

Weeks had gone by without an opportunity to complete “After the Wedding”, so when we went to paint Natalie in a new pose in the same chair, I decided to place her in the foreground of “After the Wedding”.  I kept my strokes quick and intuitive so as not spoil the spontaneity that I had enjoyed in “After the Wedding.”  I now have an unusual product for me, one trending toward the loose, barely suggested, portraits of Caroline Anderson, which I admire so much.   (Mine leaves a lot less to the imagination than hers does.)  It has been suggested that I darken the hand and chair on the right side of the picture, to keep eyes focussed on the actions in the center.  What do you think?

Here’s a charcoal drawing I did last night in Deidre Rilely’s class at the Institute (NH Institute of Art), Advanced Figure Drawing:

IMG_0002

New model (Jon), new paper (Niddegen), and dramatic lighting combined to inspire a pretty good job of it.  So that kind of brings you up to date.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Audubon Massabesic Center in Auburn, as part of an exhibit of Manchester Artists Association paintings and photographs;  at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

 

Encore Performance

Another no-show model, after what seems like an eternity without Monday Life Group, so once more into the breach I sprang.  This is great for everyone except me;  last time was very popular with readers of the blog; the artists mostly love me as a model for some inarticulable reasons.

The artists were only four in number this week, but such interesting works!

Fletch Goes Big

Fletch Goes Big

Fletch’s forte is the small pencil drawing.  Here he not only deploys oil paint, he does it on a fair-sized canvas!  You need to know that Fletch is bored by clothing and would not have come had he known we would not have the usual nude model.  Plus he volunteered to do the modeling and let me use his equipment (I knew ahead of time that the model wouldn’t be coming so I left my gear at home), but I felt responsible for the glitch and was determined to take my medicine.  I guess my point is, he was probably unhappy with with the situation yet he captured my gesture so well!

Jan Fills the Canvas

Jan Fills the Canvas

I do have a big head, but not sure if it is this big!  But I love her confident brush strokes.  Was it mean of me to make sure there would be a hand for the artists to cope with?  I think Jan did a great job with the shadows, and making that dent in my cheek where I rest it on those fingers!

Nancy C Tiptoes into Color

Nancy C Tiptoes into Color

Only recently has Nancy C started to bring her paints on Monday morning, in lieu of her charcoals.  Her same blocky approach, emphasizing the shapes and values, is working particularly well in this painting.  Isn’t the hair wonderful?

Portrait in Pastel by Nancy H

Portrait in Pastel by Nancy H

If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be this one–because it looks so much like me!  The right eye and the hand are so beautifully suggested.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the McGowan Gallery in Concord, NH.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

Marathon Report

Last Saturday, I participated in a ten-hour marathon of painting (or drawing) one brave model.  The day was broken into three 3-hour segments, with half-hour breaks for nourishment at lunchtime and dinnertime.  The location was the studio of Adrienne Silversmith, the same studio where we meet regularly on Monday mornings.

We started with a few quick poses to enable the artists to get warmed up, so I had less time for the longer morning pose and brought nowhere near a satisfying conclusion.  I like the hands, though.

DSC_0006

The afternoon went better for me:

Afternoon Pose from the Marathon

Afternoon Pose from the Marathon

That’s Larry Christian in the background.  He works in compressed charcoal (no wiping out!) and doesn’t do long poses, so he would move around the room to get different angles on our model.  He came around and plopped himself down in the chair I had been painting into my background, so there he is permanently ensconced in my painting.  For many years, Larry taught life drawing at the NH Institute of Art; I took his course twice.  There’s a blog post on that subject here (“Catching the Odd perspective”) and here (“Struggle with Compressed Charcoal”).

While painting away, we got to talking about a certain style of painting that has intrigued me for several years now.  It’s not merely “loose”, it’s destructive!  Adrienne described it more charitably, as construction, then de-construction.  It fascinates me because I like it, and I can’t figure out why I like it.  Here are a few links provided by Adrienne to artists that, to one degree or another, practice this style:
davidshevlino.com
maggiesiner.com

For those of you too lazy to click on a link, here is an example by Maggie Siner:

Portrait by M. Siner

Portrait by M. Siner

Anyway, after six hours of painting, I felt brave enough to try something like it.  I first painted a fairly straightforward figure, and then I started messing with the edges.  Then I messed with the edges of the changes in values.  By the time I quit, I had pretty much had pixelated the entire painting:

DSC_0009

My result is more pointillist than the style I wanted to emulate, but I kind of love it. For the foreseeable future, I plan to run with it.  But I’m still puzzled as to why it works, and my efforts are probably doomed to fail if I cannot figure that out.  Is it the illusion of movement?  Mine looks as if you are looking through glass bathed in water.  So my surface is the moving part, whereas the figure in Maggie Siner’s painting would be the moving part in hers.  Obviously, I am not even close to the ultimate goal, but I’m on my way.  Perhaps.

Here are works from a few of my fellow marathoners, Nancy C and Cindy A, and I’m pretty sure if you’ve been following along, that you’ll have no trouble identifying Nancy’s painting.  Cindy is one of the Cornwall Four, four of us who took Cameron Bennett’s 2013 workshop (inspired by the Cornwall painters of yore) and thereafter painted en plein air together on a regular basis.  Discussed here perhaps.

IMG_0247IMG_0246IMG_0249

 

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the New London Inn in New London; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

Very, very soon, the annual Love, Lust and Desire show at the McGowan Gallery in Concord opens!  January 30 (Friday) 5-7 p.m. is the reception.  Over 70 artists are participating.  Unfortunately, I can’t be there because I signed up for another Snow Camp with Stapleton Kearns.  I have ten pieces in the McGowan show, mostly nudes, all 8×11, all priced at $150 each.  Original oil paintings for only $150!  So definitely check it out if you like my nudes.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

Fun and Struggles; Struggles are Fun?

Here is this week’s output of my Monday morning life group:

Paint, not charcoal

Paint, not charcoal

Strong shapes have always been Nancy C’s forte, conveyed in charcoal.  The big news here is that Nancy  brought her oil paints for the first time, starting out by doing a grisaille painting of the model, just as Jan did when she first started with us.  (“Grisaille” means painted in monocolor, usually black but it can be any color.)

Jan's version

Well, Jan is certainly into color now!  Bold, vibrant colors, strong shapes and brush strokes.  . . . Interesting foot.  (More on that below.)

Waiting Nymph

Waiting Nymph

Nymph is mine.  I had in mind “sleeping nymph” when we were setting up the pose, but she is clearly not asleep.  The body part that I had the most difficulty with was her left arm.  Getting the width of it just right doesn’t sound like rocket science, but for some reason, my brain does not always perform correctly.  It’s important not to give up when that happens.  Because I spent so much time fussing with the drawing of the shape, the painting of the shape fell a little short.  But I still rate the painting as successful.  Perfection cannot be the goal when you only have three hours minus breaks to complete a figurative painting from life.

Nancy and Jan were having a lot of difficulty getting the figure’s right foot looking like a foot, because it was so foreshortened from their angle that on the canvas it was coming out looking like a club foot.  So we photographed it, and they are supposed to be working hard at home to render a believable foreshortened foot.  Here’s the photo they are working from:

Pesky foot

Pesky foot

I’m not sure, but I believe if you can get the toes to read like toes, the rest of the foot will become viable.  I can’t wait to see if Nancy and Jan succeed, and they better bring in the paintings this Monday to show us!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the New London Inn in New London; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

Very, very soon, the annual Love, Lust and Desire show at the McGowan Gallery in Concord opens!  January 30 (Friday) 5-7 p.m. is the reception.  Over 70 artists are participating.  Unfortunately, I can’t be there because I signed up for another Snow Camp with Stapleton Kearns.  (Concerned that I may be getting too old and fragile for such shenanigans?  Me too.)  I have ten pieces in the McGowan show, mostly nudes, all 8×11, all priced at $150 each.  These are original oil paintings for only $150!  So check it out if you like my nudes.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

Beginning Anew

First of all, it’s hard to get started.   I’ve been dragging my feet for over a week, avoiding my first post of the new year.  Second, it’s hard to be original.  New Year’s Resolutions for artists come in two packages:  Plan A:  Get Better.  Plan B:  Get Better Known.  The “How” of each?  That’s what used to be known, before inflation, as the $64 question.

How to get better for painters:  paint more?  paint different?  read more books?  take more classes and workshops?

How to get better known (“do better marketing”):  write a blog?  send out a newsletter?  join a gallery?

These two big objectives are basically incompatible unless you hire someone else to do the marketing for you.  A spouse comes in handy!  For a colleague’s summary of possible resolutions for an artist’s new year, see the blog of Sharon Allen.  Now I don’t have to think about it anymore!  Instead, I will press the Restart button next month when I have a convenient birthday.  The older, slower, and lazier I get, the harder I must work just to keep up.

This week, I photographed all the works from our Monday life drawing/painting session; everyone seems to enjoy that.  Our model this week was actually one of my patrons, one who buys my nude paintings, prints and drawingsof other people, and wanted one of herself.  She had had a double mastectomy and wanted to record that achievement.  She was a great model, and is pleased with the painting that I did of her, so “Mission Accomplished!”  The following photos were taken with my iPhone, so the quality of reproduction might not be up to what we are used to from my Nikon D70.  (I sure hope so!)  After this array, I am including some stragglers, which should have been included in previous blogs but weren’t.

The Charcoalist

The Charcoalist

The Pastellist

The Pastellist

The other oil painter

The other oil painter

My painting

My painting

We all agreed on the color of her hair.   Only mine has the egregious shine.  The shine may be caused or aggravated by a mixture that I use as my medium, which includes Liquin.  Oil paints lose their natural glossiness when they dry, but the Liquid helps to reduce that effect, but it also makes the paint when wet super glossy.

The stragglers are three from a week when I never got around to posting at all, or I posted on other subjects.

Bursting with Life

Bursting with Life

Isn’t she glorious?  I see at least flaw that I want to correct–wrist of her right hand looks suddenly too narrow because of a stray blob of dark paint.  Gwen has been extremely popular with the artists, but alas, we will not be seeing her for a while, at least for the duration of her pregnancy.

For the Monday between Christmas and the New Year, we painted Aubrey again, also a very popular model who happens to be an artist herself.  I did not photograph the artworks that day, but our Pastellist (Nancy Healy) was good enough to bring her drawing back this week to show off how great it was, so I got the photo then, again with my iPhone.  Nancy had taken a photo of Aubrey and worked on the facial features at home in order to get them just right.

IMG_0541

My own painting was this head and shoulders version:

2015-01-02 15.47.54

I perhaps got too fascinated by the turquoise pendant.  But isn’t it interesting how similar the two faces are.  Almost as if we were both on the same painting spot.  We were pretty close.  I was lower down since I sit to paint, and Nancy stands.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the New London Inn in New London; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers).  Very, very soon, the Love, Lust and Desire show at the McGowan Gallery in Concord is coming!  January 29 is the reception.

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

Follow Up

As a result of my previous blog featuring myself as a model, which everyone seemed to enjoy more than my paintings of other people, I have resolved to try to show more artwork that is not my own, and to do a fresh self-portrait, if only to assure myself that my skills have improved in the last three years.  So this week, I present such a self-portrait, and even more exciting . . . well, truly exciting . . . a video of another artist’s painting of our Monday morning model.  You will see what I painted that day plus what is in effect a demo of what Tony Luongo did that same day.

Starting with the self-portrait, I have to say I am a little surprised that it looks so similar to my 2011 pencil portrait.  That is to say, I haven’t aged a bit in three years.

Self Portrait 2014

Self Portrait 2014

I hope you agree I did a better job on the nose this time.  Comparing a pencil portrait to an oil painted portrait may be unfair to the pencil, so for purposes of evaluating my skills, I will show you another selfie painted in an early portrait class (2008) that I took with Adeline Goldminc-Tronzo.  Bear in mind that the earlier portrait was developed over several sessions and helped by the observations of the teacher.  It was the best thing I did in that class.

Self-portrait_1

Same hair, same eyes, but younger lips and less saggy around the jaw.  Oops, there I go again, concentrating on the wrong thing!  Six years of practice have gone into a more courageous handling of the paint and a more accurate portrait (I think).  And I did the new one in only a few hours.  Credit is owed, however, to my colleague Dee Lessard, with whom I was painting that day, for her observations.

For our Monday painting last week, Aubrey was our model again.  This is what I produced:

DSC_0004

Tony set up his easel on Aubrey’s other side.  I worried that he was not getting a good angle or enough light, but as you will see, he didn’t seem much bothered by such details.  I never noticed that he had set up his smart phone on some kind of rack and set it to record his every move.  After he got home, he sped up the action so that the final video takes only ten minutes or so. http://www.youtube.com/user/luongoart

In an interesting coincidence, it turns out that Tony also modeled for Cameron Bennett’s master’s thesis painting.  Tony shared with me a photo of that painting in progress, and I wish I could share it with you, but since it was a work in progress at that time, I would need the artist’s permission first.  The painting was a crowd scene, with me and other volunteers playing our roles as members of an audience to two mysterious floating figures furnished by paid models.  Either the models or Cameron are magicians.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the New London Inn in New London; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers). And for the month of December, at the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester NH.

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

Celebrating Humanity?

In the context of the highly publicized current national and international events, humanity may not deserve a ticker-tape parade.  On the macro level, humanity has little to brag about.  But in the micro scale, the artist’s scale, things of beauty can still be found.  Three different nuggets have tumbled together in my brain to form this topic.

Nugget No. 1:  Have you ever stopped to consider what goes into the creation of a magnificent work of music?  I was listening to the broadcast of a Beethoven symphony last week when the enormity of the achievement struck me:  first, humans had to invent and perfect and pass down instruments; then an individual human had to come up with an arrangement of notes to be played on the instruments all together, only to be achieved after many years of practicing and learning and experimenting; then humans had to learn how to play the instruments and then how to play the notes as arranged by the composer,  which required many years of practicing and learning and experimenting; then it all had to be pulled together so that the individual musicians played a complex composition as if they were a single organism.  To bring the glorious sound to me, there’s the recording technology, the broadcasting technology . . . .  My mind boggled.  One symphony is an enormous human achievement–but an achievement by individuals working alone and together, all of the pieces contributing to the magnificent end.

Nugget No. 2:  For marketing purposes, I have lately been mulling over and over a catch phrase to use to describe my own artistic output.  Seeker of beauty?  Finder of beauty?  I was looking for some way to express the idea that I paint stuff that exemplifies beauty of everyday life, perhaps small stuff that ordinarily gets overlooked.  No messages, no “concept” other than beauty.  Sure, I’m an environmentalist, a landscape painter, convinced that we are hurtling toward our own doom by destroying our atmosphere, but I have no urge to paint, say, an oil refinery as a villain.  If I were to paint an oil refinery, it would be to discover the beauty of the shapes, lines, and values to be found there.  I went back to the mission statement offered to me by Cameron Bennett where he used the phrase “preserving humanity”.  I think he means preserving a record of humanity, since I do not know of a way for art to actually keep us safe.  Is there a dark thought inherent in the idea that such record might one day be needed?  No, I rejected such a gloomy interpretation.   Perhaps the combination of “preserving humanity” and “discovering/revealing beauty” could be expressed as “celebrating humanity”?

Nugget No. 3:   last night I attended the reception for a show of works by Peter Granucci.  The show is called “Memorial to Lost Species”.

Peter Granucci, Alone in Grief

Peter Granucci, Alone in Grief

The drama and anguish exhibited in the above image is repeated in perhaps 20 paintings, all with a human figure and many with the skull of a nonhuman creature. Peter created frames for each piece, which extend the grittiness and turbulence of the backgrounds of the paintings.  The captions on the paintings are pointed references to the losses of species, and the grief we, mankind, ought to be experiencing as a result–   humanity grieving for the species destroyed, grieving for the world lost, grieving, ultimately, for its own viability.  Peter certainly had a message, and he wasn’t satisfied with just one painting to convey that message.  Before inspiration took him into this deep dark place, four years ago, he was like me, painting beauty.  He celebrated the beauty of the female form.  His drawings of the female form are simply exquisite.  But when an emotion overtakes an artist, the output has to reflect it.  Think Picasso’s “Guernica”.  Now think Granucci’s “Memorial”.  The show will be up for the rest of December at the Art Gallery in New England College, Henniker, New Hampshire.

So I am a little shaken by Peter’s message.  And the events on the news.  How can I thank about “celebrating” humanity when humanity does so much that is wrong?

Nevertheless, I share with you the last two weeks’ of Monday life painting:

Better than Climbing Trees

Better than Climbing Trees

The title is a reference to the fact that, after modeling for us in the morning, Robbie was off to climb trees in the process of cutting them down.  That was the Monday before Thanksgiving, and that Wednesday we got hit with lots of wet, heavy snow that felled a lot trees over power lines–my family went without a Thanksgiving dinner this year.  Just thinking, a little adumbration perhaps?

A Lovely Nude

A Lovely Nude

We think this new model might be the answer to Rebecca’s “retirement” (have you missed Becky?).  Interesting how she and Robbie are in almost identical poses, leaning against the wall.

If you remember my very large painting of a cat awakening from a nap (“Nap, Interrupted”) that I started last summer but shied away from finishing because I was afraid of the whiskers . . .

Nap, Interrupted

Nap, Interrupted

here she is with whiskers.  I had to finish her because I promised her to the Currier Museum for the month of December.  Here is how she looks on the wall of the Museum’s Community Gallery, on the lower level where the classrooms and auditorium are:

IMG_0153

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the New London Inn in New London; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers). And at the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester NH.

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

 

New Muse

In Saturday Life Group this morning, we had a new model.  Her name is Gwen.  About halfway through the morning, I realized why she seemed so familiar to me:  She had modeled for the figure painting class I took with Sean Beavers last June.  You can see the results of that class here.  I had recruited her for my Monday group, but, after collecting all her contact information, I forgot her name.  What good is contact information if you can’t remember the name of the person you want to contact?

Anyway, everyone there this morning was just thrilled with her.   “So graceful” was how Nancy put it.  “Beautiful . . . everything about her is beautiful”, observed Steve, “even her pregnancy,”  Gwen’s baby is due in February, so she is not all that large with child yet, but we will see her again in January, I hope.

For my part, I haven’t had this good an SLG session for months.  I usually don’t bother looking at my sketch pad after I get home.  Today I not only looked, I “fixed” (sprayed with fixative to prevent smearing of charcoal dust) them and removed a few from my pad in order to prep them for framing!  Here they are, in order of importance, low to high:

Gwen in Five Minutes

Gwen in Five Minutes

Gwen in Ten Minutes

Gwen in Ten Minutes

Gwen in Twenty Minutes

Gwen in Twenty Minutes

Gwen in Forty Minutes

Gwen in Forty Minutes

The Ultimate Gwen (50 minutes)

The Ultimate Gwen (50 minutes)

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the New London Inn in New London, NH; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers). Two Lowell Cemetery paintings are on view at the Arts League of Lowell, 307 Market Street, Lowell, Massachusetts.

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

 

Three Pies on One Finger

The three pies are:  Landscape en plein air; animal portraiture from photo; and human portraiture from life.  I am happy with all three.

First, the landscape happened when I went down to Boston to collect the painting that was on exhibit at the Arboretum.  A week ago, Thursday, October 30, was a beautiful day–yet another beautiful autumn day in New England–if this is climate change, it’s hard to root against it!  Not willing to devote the trip solely for pickup, I brought my painting gear.  The Arboretum allows me, because I hold a handicapped designation (walking disability–I can walk, but not real far, and even less far with my painting gear on my back), to drive into the garden and park wherever I need to for the sake of art.  The top of Bussey Hill would have been inaccessible to me if I had to rely on my legs to get me there.

On Bussey Hill (in the Boston Arboretum)

On Bussey Hill (in the Boston Arboretum)

From Bussey Hill, the highest point in the Arboretum, you can see the skyline of Boston, and that view was my original target.  But when I got up there, the skyline view was mostly obscured with trees still hanging onto leaves, so I found a better one.  The distant blue mound is probably Blue Hills, to the west of Boston.  Painting foliage in this way is what I consider to be my forte.  So far, the world has not beaten a path to my doorway in response, so maybe I need to find a new forte.

For portraiture, I have two examples since I have had two meetings of the Monday Life Group after my last posting.  The model who posed pregnant and nude for us a few months ago has delivered of her baby, a little fellow named Montain.  That’s a heavy name for such a small scrap of humanity, so I think of him as Monty.  At only a few weeks old, he participated in his mom’s modeling gig.  He was very well-behaved, but he did squirm.  It was an extreme test of the artists’ ability to memorize gestures and get them down so as to create a recognizable babe in arms, not just a blob in swaddling clothes.

Introducing Monty

Introducing Monty

He lost a sock at one point, which delighted me.  He actually sucked on a pacifier most of the time, but I managed to suggest a face without pacifier.  Perhaps I should have gone with the pacifier?  Inasmuch as it felt a little bizarre to have mom nude while the babe was fully clothed, we asked her to return next week prepared to pose for us clothed.  The next image is the result:

Take Two: Mother and Son

Take Two: Mother and Son

Monty’s head is a bit misshapen, so this one must be taken as a work in progress.  Funny how I never noticed that strange shape until I saw this image.

Finally, something different.  I love cats.  I own two female cats, and I live with another two male cats, which one of my granddaughters left behind when she moved out.  The boys are quite young.  Lively.  Pushy.  I have resorted to keeping them separated from the girls, who are exceptionally intimidated by them.  The boys leave no stone unturned in their effort to make sense of the world around them.  Causing stuff to fall to floor is one of their favorite experiments.  But they have stolen my heart.

Partners in Crime (WIP)

Partners in Crime (WIP) 16×12

Blue, the one on top, is just turning one year old this month.  Milo is probably one and a half.  Milo is more respectful of my space.  Blue respects no one’s space, but he does not aggravate the girls as much as Milo does.  Blue will leap on me without warning and just cling onto me until I cradle him.  Bad habit acquired when he was more of a kitten.

I only have a little bit of work left to complete this painting, after which I will have giclees made of it since I have heard that animals sell.  Whether the granddaughter gets the original or a giclee for Christmas remains to be decided.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the New London Inn in New London, NH; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers). Two Lowell Cemetery paintings  are on view at the Arts League of Lowell, 307 Market Street, Lowell, Massachusetts.

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

Art in the Park

Before I get caught up in narratives of what I’ve been doing in the recent past, allow me to tout the upcoming event, “Art in the Park”, this Saturday, September 20, at Veterans Park in Manchester NH (rain date is the next day, Sunday, September 21).  This is an annual art show from the artists of the Manchester Artists Association.  We put up tents;  we put up racks; we cover said racks with artworks.  We wait. . . for people to come by and ooh and aah and maybe buy a piece or two.  Many cards and prints will also be on sale.  I am sharing my tent and racks this event with Linda Feinberg, who writes poetry to go along with her cards and other artworks.   This year The MAA is also sponsoring a children’s art show in conjunction with our own, in order to support the value of art making in the schools and to encourage potential artists to carry on.   If at all possible for you to visit us at this event, I beg you to do so.  It’s important for not just me, but for all the constituencies involved–artists in Manchester, artists in New Hampshire, school children, and the general public– who need more art in their lives!  To encourage high attendance, I am going to give away a piece of art–probably a drawing–via something like a raffle (not really a raffle because no payment will be required).  To qualify for the gift, you might have to answer a question about the artwork I am about to post in this blog.  So pay attention now!

Mostly what I have been doing this past week is tweaking the paintings of the past month, hopefully for the good, but I have also been drawing at my life groups.  The Monday life group has a new model, Robbie, whose face I found to be more interesting than his body, and I tried out a new medium:  pastel pencils.

New model, Robbie

New model, Robbie

Robbie, 2

Robbie, 2

Our Saturday group got together for our first meeting of the Fall, for our standard short poses followed by a few longer poses (but not long poses by the standards of Monday’s group).   I used charcoal.

5-minute pose

5-minute pose

10-minute pose

10-minute pose

20-minute pose

20-minute pose

40-minute pose

40-minute pose  (my favorite)

40-minute pose

40-minute pose (wish the edges were more interesting)

Finally, here is your first view of “Nap, Interrupted”.  I started it a month ago, then had to leave it alone while I pursued my landscape paintings.  Yesterday I tweaked it a little, but not so much as to make it worth another round of photos.

Gracie Portrait, WIP

Nap, Interrupted  (WIP)

This painting of my smallest cat, Grace, who, by the way, has an earlier post entirely devoted to her (see it here), was prompted by (1) the sale of my other gigantic cat painting called “Fur” (hmmm, I thought, cats sell!), (2) a great photo of Grace I had been saving to paint, and (3) a 2 by 4 foot canvas (dimensions that match the photo) just lying around.  Also in my mind was something Paul Ingbretson said, to the effect that you should paint every painting with the hope that  your painting will be the one to first draw the eye of anyone who enters in an exhibit space.  I am certainly doing the hoping here.  Whether the hope is ever realized . . . , well we can only hope.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers); and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

.

Double courses, Double helpings

I’ve been painting so much lately that I have not had time to blog.  Today’s blog, therefore, will cover a lot of activity.  On the menu are three pure landscapes and three figures in the landscape.  You have seen earlier versions of two of the latter, so we’ll start with those even though my changes to the originals represent my most recent activities.

The Black Kimono, Take 2

The Black Kimono, Take 2

I felt I had to fix the arm in Black Kimono.  That is kind of a dangerous thing to do, especially since I had no photo reference, or if maybe I did take one, I forgot to look for it.  I just plunged ahead, building a right arm where I felt it should be, given where the left arm was.  The right arm still disappears behind her thigh, but the angle is more natural, and the plumpness of the forearm conveys the message better.  I am not declaring Black Kimono “done” yet because I am considering whether to add some pale streaks of lights reflecting off the kimono, so as to better delineate the leg underneath.  I hesitate because the result will be gray, and that can just look messy.

I have not had much experience with black.  In fact, I used to not carry a tube of black with me at all.  If I needed black, I would just mix the darkest available colors, usually ultramarine blue and burnt umber.  I learned that in one of the first courses I took at the Institute.  Peter Dixon was teaching color theory and Renaissance painting, and combined both of them in the same room at the same time.  So I picked up basic color theory along with grisaille and glazing.  Black was not used for either course.  Since then, I have encountered many other teachers who make “black” with their own combination of darks.

Yesterday morning we met again in the Lessard garden with our nude model.  You’d think with another three hours to work on something that seemed really close to finished after the first three hours, that it would be perfect now, and I even could have started a second painting.  Alas, not so.  I’m less happy with it now than I was last week.  Maybe happiness is a function of the number of hours expended on something.  Longer generates higher expectations, perhaps higher than achievable.

White Floppy, Take 2

White Floppy, Take 2

Her new face is what bothers me the most, but I also see background “errors”.  And one of the reasons for spending the extra time–improving the patterns of light and shadow on the figure–just don’t dazzle like I hoped.  It seems that just when I feel I am making significant progress of that ladder of artistic proficiency, I come up short and get knocked back a peg or two.  Did I just mix a metaphor?  How embarrassing!  I used to be so good with the English grammar stuff.

While we are looking at figures in the landscape, let’s check out the Last Pose of Summer–the last one in David Curtis’ garden.  Our model Mary Ann brought a costume reminiscent of Gibson Girls–between Victorian and the Roaring Twenties.  On top of her filmy white gown, she wore a dusty pink lace coat.  Dusty pink is close to the color of skin in shade.  How hard will that be to depict!

The Last Pose of Summer

The Last Pose of Summer

I kind of think I nailed it.  I would have liked to capture more definite leg shapes, but it was windy and the fabric kept swirling around her so as to prevent any sort of definitive anything.  Go with the flow, I say.  So I did.

For the pure landscape selections, we have another local back yard, one to dream of, a trip southward to a vista of brackish marshes, and tree portrait from the Boston Arboretum.  However interesting these scenes might be to a viewer, to this artist they felt dreary for the lack of a human presence.  Or even a dog presence.  I have become quickly spoiled by my good fortune in David Curtis’ garden.  Still it is good to be outside painting:

Elaine's Back Yard

Elaine’s Back Yard

This really is in the back yard of a fellow artist, Elaine Farmer, who just moved to Amherst and invited us over to paint on her fabulous garden.  But we can’t resist water.  And there was a little foot bridge over the stream, whence I painted.

Cox Reservation

Cox Reservation

The Cox Reservation is located in Essex, Massachusetts.  David Curtis and a group of his followers meet up there regularly to paint.  I have actually painted this scene before, when Sharon Allen and I were exploring the Essex National Heritage Area.  As I was driving down, I resolved not to get sucked back in with this vista, but rather to find something interesting, preferably with flowers, to paint close up.  So much for resolutions.  I hate vistas.  They are so hard!   When I started on this one, there wasn’t even any water to paint, but as the tide rose, it got better.  But why was I even there?  I don’t know.  Something in my afterlife must have required it.  No, I have it!  I just compared it to the earlier one (linked above), and it seems my vistas have improved somewhat since 2012.  Yea!

Smoke Bush at Arboretum

Smoke Bush at Arboretum

Finally, the Smoke Tree.  I had to deliver a painting to the Arboretum anyway, so I decided to make a day of it and paint something.  No vistas this time.  I went looking for flowers, and found mostly flowering trees, which is not something very common at the end of summer.  This bush (“tree” is reserved for bushes that grow a lot higher) was located at the top of Bussey Hill.  Luckily, there was a road to get me there.  (They let me have a driving permit because I couldn’t carry my gear all that way, and I do have handicapped privileges due to the arthritis in my back.)  I labored over the Smoke Bush so much harder than I should have had to, and I suspect that is because I had the time to do so.  Had a model been present to paint, the tree gets abstracted in the background.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   a single painting is on view for one more week at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

.

Continuing the Garden Binge

Encouraged by the success of the red parasol painting, I returned to the David Curtis garden in Gloucester two more times.  I have provisionally titled these two by the most prominent prop–a reflecting ball and a black kimono, respectively.

The reflecting ball was, to me, an annoyance, but I had to deal with it.

The Reflecting Ball

The Reflecting Ball

David advised us to paint portraits rather than a figure in the landscape, but as you can see, I ignored his advice.  Two weeks prior, I had already committed to painting that tree in the background.  Plus, the less real estate I needed for the reflecting ball, the better.  David praised (I think it was intended as praise) it as telling a story.   Why does mine tells a story and the others not?   A women in gypsy outfit gazing at a reflecting ball?  Must be a story in that, right?  The answer lies in the fact that I painted a figure in the landscape, not a portrait.  To tell a story, you have to back off a bit, gain some perspective.

Last Sunday we gathered around our model decked out in a black kimono and holding a fan.

The Black Kimono

The Black Kimono

This one I enjoyed a lot, almost as much as the red parasol.  It was allegedly the easiest of the Curtis Garden Series.  Certainly it presented nothing as complicated as that red parasol and cupid statuette;  the fan? –not even close.  Then why, when I could complete the Red Parasol with 15 minutes to spare, am I dissatisfied with Black Kimono?  Something about her right arm doesn’t look correct.

Yes, our model actually held that fan up for twenty minutes at a time (she braced the elbow against her side), but her feet would fall asleep.  Whenever the timer signaled her break, she would forget that fact about the feet, try to take a step, and collapse in the grass.  Gracefully.

We all enjoyed ourselves very, very much–including David, I guess — he invited us back next Sunday.  Since Bea is going out of town for Labor Day weekend, I shall have to drive down alone.

The Ultimate Opportunity in figure painting  occurred on Monday, when our life group left the studio to meet with our model in the Lessard garden.

The White Floppy Hat

The White Floppy Hat

We will meet again next week to work on the same pose.  I could almost call the painting finished, but it would be a pretty rough finish.  I think I can do better:  The head is slightly too large.  Some of the spots of light on her could be more delicious–meaning more contrast between light and shadow on her.

All three of these garden paintings demonstrate the benefit of using a dark (mostly burnt umber) ground.  I’ve been using previously painted-on panels, having sanded them down first.  The ground helps to hide the remnants of the original painting, which might otherwise be distracting.  The darkest ground provides the best cover, but my real reason for choosing a dark ground is the lovely foliage depth that occurs so effortlessly.  I can leave the ground showing behind her in the whole upper right section.

All that help, still not “finished”.  What magic took over when I painted Red Parasol?  And how do I get that magic back???

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   a single painting is on view for one more week at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

.

 

New (to me) Teacher: David Curtis

Yesterday Bea Bearden and I drove down to Gloucester, Massachusetts, to attend a plein-air-with-figure workshop in a garden attached to the home of David Curtis.  Although David, as we are encouraged to call him, is an anointed master painter (member of the Boston Guild of Artists), I had not been acquainted with him, his work, or his teaching before Friday, when I got the call from Bea and signed up for the workshop.  I feel extremely lucky to have got the opportunity.  For the past few years, I have not been signing up for plein air workshops (unless they involved the figure somehow).  I’ve taken so many plein air workshops in my short career as an artist, and done so many plein air paintings, that I had begun to feel I could not learn anything new.  (“Know it all” syndrome.)  Besides, it is the figure that I wanted to concentrate on now, so that’s where my workshop budget went.  However, in one casual Sunday afternoon (three hours) David Curtis conferred upon me new insights into plein air painting.  The kind of insights where you might say, oh, yeah, why didn’t I see that before!  Maybe you did see it, but I hadn’t, not consciously at least.

Here are my two favorite insights:

  • First:  On an overcast day (that’s what we had yesterday), the light comes from overhead, not at any angle.  Hence the tops of flowers, e.g., are catching the most light.  Duh! you say?  I know.  Obvious when you think about it.  But I had never thought about it before.
  • Second: Did you notice, in the Sargent exhibit at the Boston MFA a few months ago, that there were very few skies showing?  The absence of sky, usually the lightest element in a landscape painting, allows there to exist in the painting a different lightest object–one not at the top of the painting, which is, after all, a damn awkward place to suffer a focal point (unless you are focussing on clouds).  From this opportunity to create a lightest spot elsewhere on the canvas comes  the power to be unusual, to be dramatic,  to capture the viewer.  We all want to capture the viewer, and hang onto her.  Now we have a new tool–eliminate the sky as an element of the scene.

We were a group of nine students in Gloucester, all quite accomplished painters.  On the way home, Bea and I congratulated ourselves on the fact that we held our own in this company.  We will join them again for two more Sundays later in August, and I am so looking forward to it!

Due to the speed with which I work, my painting was completed within the three hours of the workshop.  Even better, it is one with which I am very happy.  The flowers gave me the opportunity to paint just the kind of landscape that I like best, and the lovely model with her coral dress and orange-red parasol were a feast for the eyes.  Thank God I brought my cadmium orange and cad red light.  And my perylene red and quinacridone magenta.  All were needed for the many reds and pinks in this painting.

Did you speak?

Did you speak?

I made sure that my angle on the stone cupid showed off his best side too.  Can you tell that the flowers inside the ring of granite stones are impatiens?  The dabbing technique to simulate flowers and leaves is something I adopted back when I was first studying landscapes with Stan Mueller, and he encouraged it.  It’s not something I can always work into landscapes vistas, and maybe that’s why I prefer not to do vistas.  I began this painting with a burnt umber ground, applied to cover up the Campobello Island seascape underneath.  (I’m getting more and more ruthless in my painting demolitions.)  The dark ground helped me speed toward completion.

Today I worked on another portrait of my daughter Nancy.  The Group (Monday Life Group) agreed that we wanted to paint the blue patterned kimono that she uses as a coverup between poses.  My parents had brought this kimono back to me from Japan in 1966 or thereabouts, and after five decades  it is finally coming into its own!  However, it was not possible to deal with the pattern in the time given to us.  Moreover, the wet blue paint did not allow for adding fresh whites and pinks where needed.  So this is a Work in Progress.

Nancy wearing a kimono

Nancy wearing a kimono

After the kimono dries, I will add the patterns using this photo I took with my phone.

Nancy in the blue kimono

Nancy in the blue kimono

I don’t know if I really missed the tilt of her head as much as the photo suggests, but someone did tell me recently (Paul Ingbretson, I believe) that we humans have a hard time overcoming an innate desire to untilt heads.  I have noticed as much in myself before, so I was trying extra hard this morning to counter that tendency.  Sigh!  Regarding the size of her irises, that was a deliberate decision to exaggerate them in order to get across how one perceives Nancy’s eyes.  They come across as large.

Last week Nancy had posed for us nude, but wearing quite a deep tan–from walking the dog, she claimed.  Her droopy eyelids of last week caused me to bring her a large iced coffee this morning in the hope that we not get the sleepy look again.

Nancy wearing a tan

Nancy wearing a tan

I almost want to hide this one from you, because I feel I butchered the nose.  Still, it’s interesting as a study of skin tones.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

.

Hands and Feet

Last week, I hadn’t done much new in the painting department, so I looked for a topic that I could discuss using past doings.  I came up with “hands and feet”, and even got started with this text.  But then my computerized photo library went kerfluey, and as you probably know, kerfluey computers tend to soak up all available time until they are fixed.  “Fixed” has still not occurred, but in the meantime I found the time to produce new art–because I sent the recalcitrant Mac Mini to the geniuses at the local Apple store.  Luckily, I was in a position to repossess an iMac I had loaned to a granddaughter–I am very much into Redundancy, and it has worked for me.

So I will complete what I wanted to say originally about hands and feet, and seque into a somewhat more moments issue, one that has less to do with drawing and more to do with an entire approach to painting.

This will not be my first discussion of hands, but I am shocked to see that it has been so long since I first addressed that subject.  I thought maybe 18, at most 24 months.  But it was over 45  months ago!  See that earlier blog from October of 2010 here. My overall strategy when trying to depict hands and feet with paint is to first swipe in the larger shape and then try to array the fingers and toes with quick, unlabored strokes.  If the strokes work, then I push the paint around a bit, add light and dark values, toying with the elements–before wiping them out and starting over.  If the first strokes don’t work, or the toying with them loses the first good strokes, I don’t give up hope.

[Not giving up is the most important part of painting.  Eventually, if you keep trying, it comes together, more or less.  Mine have come together before, so I know the next one will too– eventually, as long as I keep trying.]

Let’s examine a few efforts:

Large quickie of a pose

Large quickie of a pose

These are perfect examples of what I always TRY to do–get the shape and size correct, let my strokes suggest fingers if I am lucky.  Below are some hands I had been working on the last two weeks–first are the “draft” ones, then the finished ones:

Detail, Week 1 of Pose

Detail, Week 1 of Pose

DSC_0007

After second week, I’m not exactly proud because there is little improvement.  Sometimes that happens too–I keep trying to find the magic, and I keep getting the pedestrian.

Take a look at yesterday’s hand:

29 Weeks

29 Weeks

As I worked on her hand, I was consciously applying what I knew I was going to write about in the blog.  We can only speculate whether that helped.  I painted that hand at least five times, not changing anything really, just varying the contrast, the values.  But I did that very same thing to the entire body.

This was a first-time model, recruited by one of our regulars when she learned that we value the opportunity to paint a pregnant woman.  We have her for next Monday’s session too, but I think I am content with this effort and so plan to work on a portrait next week.

I set up the lighting for “29 Weeks” to create maximum contrast between the light hitting her directly and the shadows behind her.  But even while planning to paint a “light and shadow” version, I was pondering whether I am more attuned to “local tone” painters, as one of my DVD experts, Quang Ho, terms it.  Van Gogh, for instance.  Van Gogh paints relatively flat colors, representing the actual color of the object without showing the effect of light or shadow.  To separate elements one from another, he often outlines them in a dark line.  To create texture and interest in large shapes, he makes patterns.  No gradation, no atmospheric perspective.  Here’s a good example:

A Meadow in the Mountains Le  Mas de Saint-Paul 1889Paul (1889), by Van Gogh

A Meadow in the Mountains Le Mas de Saint-Paul 1889Paul (1889), by Van Gogh

Imitating Van Gogh gives me a instantaneous rush of pleasure–it could be the thick paint, the permission to abandon shading, the richness of color.  Whatever, I feel good even when the painting turns out not so good.  Achieving a quality result result after hours of laboring over the core shadows, the half tones, the reflected light, etc, etc, leaves me with a feeling of accomplishment, but no real “high”.  As I painted “29 Weeks” I was thinking about that even as I painted light and shadow.  Maybe, for next week, I should try the Van Gogh approach and see how it comes out.  And see if it gives me a “high”.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

.

Two weeks of earnest painting

You know what I just realized?  Painting from photographs is way (I mean WAY) easier than painting from life.  Obvious?  Not until now.  Until I painted the Haitian boy carrying the bundle of sticks (see here),  I had not painted from a photograph for so long that I had forgotten what it was like.  I don’t remember thinking it was easy.  But then came the Haitian boy, and I just popped it out with hardly any effort, followed by a pretty decent cat portrait.  Then yesterday, after painting two successful landscapes from photographs, after being dissatisfied with two plein air efforts, it hit me.  Wow!  I’ve been doing all this the hard way.  The hardest way!  No wonder it has been a bit of a struggle.

On the other hand, I suspect that past struggles to paint from life are exactly what made painting from photographs seem easy.

I will show you first the stuff painted from life, then the recent landscapes from photographs.

Extended pose, green

Extended pose, green

This large (20×16) figurative work is unusual in that the model (yes, Becky) is standing and we had close to three full sessions of three hours each to work on it.  This was the last pose from the open studio course I  took with Deirdre Riley.

Extended pose, red

Extended pose, red (12×9)

Yet another seated pose of one of my all-time favorite male models–so I tried to Think Different, but Better.  We had two of our unmoderated Monday sessions for this pose, so I tried to get the drawing perfect, and apply the paint with gusto.  Towards the end, I wiped out the left hand (appearing to our right) and started it over after asking him to spread that pinky finger the way I remembered it originally.  Good decision.  You even get a feeling for his finger pressing into his flesh.  (By the way, because of my request, our model traced his fingers on his thigh so as to ensure consistent finger spread between breaks–I call that Above and Beyond the call of model duty!)

After the Monday morning of figure painting, I indulged in a Monday afternoon of landscape painting.  I went intending to paint a barn, but found myself seduced by a massive tree and the lavender stones at its base.  After about an hour and a half, I had the canvas covered, mostly in green and more green.  Horrible.  Yesterday I took it in hand and glazed it over in darker shades to alleviate the poisonous green.  Here is the Before and After:

Poison! (wip)

Poison! (wip)

Cured!

Cured! (12×16)

I hope you feel as if that branch is reaching out to grab you.  Takes me back to my childhood obsession with the Oz books, in which grabby trees were pretty common.

Wednesday I met up with colleagues (Fran, Cindy, Bea), whom I had last summer dubbed the Cornwall Four (here) because we were drawn together by the workshop “Inspired by Cornwall” last summer, given by Cameron Bennett.

We were in the woods next to Dorrs Pond, on a path trafficked by dog walkers, joggers, distracted school children, disabled adults, delinquent teens, delightful immigrants–and I was accessible to all of them.  My chair was uncomfortable–I had to lean forward to paint, and my back could not take it.  Enough of excuses.  I just felt dull about the whole thing.  So yesterday, I tried to pizzazz it up.  Mostly a matter of spreading darker colors over most of  it and lighter colors where I remember the light being.  It satisfies better, but I don’t think it is going anywhere.

A walk by Dorrs Pond

A walk by Dorrs Pond (11×14)

All that straining and effort to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  What a contrast to the next project.  It all started a week ago Friday when Sharon Allen picked me up for a jaunt up North.  It was raining, but we were hoping that as we got father north, the sun would appear.  It didn’t.  But we were on a mission:  To paint or photograph the barns of Madison, New Hampshire.  Our effort was part of a larger event organized by the Friends of Madison Library, a fundraiser in which our paintings would eventually be offered for sale, commission to the Friends.  So we drove around photographing five barns that are part of the event, and whose owners didn’t mind having artists set up painting on their properties.  We didn’t encounter any such thing, nor did we ourselves try to paint in the rain.  Sharon had brought a tent for us to paint under, just in case we were overcome by irrational desire to paint through the rain.  Instead and more sensibly, we photographed madly, even through windshield streaming with water.

So Thursday, with my dissatisfaction with the two plein air paintings painfully in mind, I decided to tone my canvases in burnt umber.  Start dark, I  strategized, and then block with in the lighter values.  It worked!  (Chorus of hallelujahs)

Madison Barn #1

Madison Barn #1 (11×14)

Madison Barn #2

Madison Barn #2 (11×14)

I used acrylic paint for the layer of dark.  New puzzle.  Do I report the media for these two paintings as “mixed”?  Some of the dark acrylic undertone definitely shows up in the finished painting.  But if I had started on a canvas that was primed in white acrylic, and left some of the white showing, I wouldn’t call that mixed media.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

.

Afterglow; Exhaustion

My show was Sunday.  Many of you remembered that, and succeeded in getting there, for which I am most grateful.  Others of  you may have tried to come, but gave up when you couldn’t find a parking spot.  If so, I apologize.  I never thought to check my reception date against the schedule for the Fisher Cats games.  I won’t ever overlook that detail again!  [Fisher Cats is the name of a AA minor league baseball team, farm team for the Toronto Blue Jays; its stadium is pretty close to the building where East Colony Gallery lives, and its parking lot becomes a Fisher Cats parking lot on game days.  The building owners tried to save us prime spots in the front of the Gallery; unfortunately, the normal signs there declare “Do Not Park”, so, in the absence of guidance, people were probably afraid to park there!]

Nevertheless, we had a decent turnout for our party, and I got to reconnect with some people I had not seen in a long time.  Alas, I did forget to take pictures, but this was because I was too busy talking, so that was a good thing.  Usually, at these shindigs, I am too shy to engage people in talking about my paintings.  Having people there whom I already knew was such a blessing!

Meanwhile, I had an extremely busy week of painting:  five-day workshop with Sean Beavers on figure painting; one night class with Deirdre Riley on the same subject; two paint outs, one in Exeter, New Hampshire, and the other in Goffstown.  And the Monday life group met as usual  yesterday morning.  I’m sure it was good, in the abstract, to be painting so much, but it may not have been beneficial for the output.  I was spreading myself too thin, especially as exhaustion began to take its toll.  I must accept the fact that, at my age, I can’t keep performing day after day at the same high energy level.

The workshop paintings fared better than the landscapes.  For Sean’s class, we had one model in the morning, doing one pose all week; and another in the afternoon, doing his same pose all week.  Two completed paintings emerged, plus one half-done portrait:

Figure and Detail

Figure and Detail

After spending three days on the figure, I developed an urge to paint the model’s portrait.  Since I had space on the same piece of canvas, and needed to fill that space with something, my decision to lay it down next to the figure was a no-brainer.  Only problem was, I was really too far from the model to paint a decent portrait.   I couldn’t see any nuances in the facial features with my uncorrected eyes from a distance of 15 feet.  Moving my easel was not an option because (a) I would have obstructed views of the artists on either side of me, (b) my spot was my spot for the afternoon painting, and that would have meant two moves, and (c) let’s not kid ourselves–this is only for practice.  The fact that I ended up doing close to the same thing for the afternoon painting just means I’m consistent.

Competing Lights

Competing Lights

For this pose, Sean set up a spotlight with red cel in front of the model, and one behind the model with a blue cel, emulating sunlight.  The effect was quite dramatic.  Fun!  I spent four days on this painting, and so had only one day to fill with a practice portrait:

Portrait version

Portrait version

Again, my inability to see detail that far away, and the shortness of time remaining to me, meant I could not produce a finished portrait, but I got the big pieces right.  Sean was actually impressed!  But bottom line, the face in my figure painting is more interesting that this “forced” portrait. (To me.)

The paintout on Saturday in Exeter ended with a wet paint sale to benefit the American Independence Museum, which had organized the event.  We had a gorgeous day.  Every other day last week it rained at least a little bit.  My goal for this event was to paint something pedestrian but so well that someone would want to own it.  I failed.  Not in the pedestrian part but in the wanting part.

Exeter River with Japanese Maple

Exeter River with Japanese Maple

I’m not sure the name of the river is Exeter.  I got many complements on the beauty of this painting, but no one wanted to own it.  For the second one, I went even further Out There–Ashcan School?:

Municipal Parking

Municipal Parking

This painting quite simply failed to be beautiful for some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on.  (If I could have identified the failing, I would have fixed it.)

Winding up the week, yesterday I did a figure in the morning and a landscape in the afternoon.  Both will be getting more attention–we will repeat the Monday pose next week.  Same is true of Deirdre’s class from last Tuesday.   And the landscape, well, you’ll just have to wait for that report because, with luck, I shall have time during the week to bring it to a new level of Van Gogh-ness.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply“, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

.

Matters of Life and Death

“Life”, in that painting from life is one matter;  “Death” in that painting in a cemetery is another matter.  A good balance.  First, the studies of a living person:  Becky again.  Three of them.  Done at the class I have been taking Tuesday nights at the Institute.  Deirdre Riley is the instructor.

Large quickie of a pose

Large quickie of a pose

The first week our longest pose was a comparatively short one–perhaps 40 minutes.  At the beginning of the course, one or two of the other students thought they preferred short poses, but now I think everyone is into the idea of the long pose and the possibility of achieving a polished drawing or painting.  This coming Tuesday, with luck, we may get the first of a carryover pose, repeating a second Tuesday–upon which event my product will no longer be half-done.  It’ll be seven-eighths done.  (The reason I am not finishing even a sketch in the three hours is because I am using 20×16 pieces of canvas, instead of the usual 9×12 or 11×14.)

The second two poses were each for the entire duration of one class, or three hours less break times.

Pose No. 2

Pose No. 2

Almost Standing

Almost Standing

I seem to be having trouble getting the length of Becky’s torso right.  The first one, it looks too short; the second one, too long.  But “Almost Standing” had potential, I thought.

Saturday was a beautiful, if chilly day to work outside.  I packed up my new Soltek easel for its first trip out into the field.  Flo Parlangeli and I launched ourselves southward toward Lowell, Massachusetts in response to an invitation to paint in a garden cemetery there.  The Lowell Cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places.  It was modeled after another famous cemetery, the Mt. Auburn, in Cambridge, Mass.  The two of us were, apparently, the only New Hampshire artists there on Saturday.  In fact, when we got there we were entirely alone and thought perhaps the event had been cancelled.  But others showed up later, and I had two of them competing with me for the best take on the Ayer Lion.  I fell in love with the Lion the minute I laid eyes on it.  Hey, it’s a large putty-cat and you know how much I loves me my putty cats!  The sad and dreamy expression on his face spoke to me.  I hope I captured it in my painting.

The Sad Lion of Lowell

The Sad Lion of Lowell

My second cemetery painting was inspired by the sight of profuse white flowers emerging from the shadows around a dark and mysterious crypt-structure.  From my web search for May-blooming shrubs with white flowers, I have concluded that the genus of the plant is Spirea.

Spirea Waterfall

Spirea Fall  (as in “water fall”)

In exactly one week, Sunday June 8, I will be finished cleaning up after the reception for my and Larry Donovan’s Featured Artists show at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery.  The reception starts at two o’clock and ends at four or whenever people drift off.  My paintings look better in person, so I hope lots of my followers will be able to view the exhibit and come to the party.  If I have any scrap of presence of mind left, I will take photos and post them next week.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

.

Hung!

image

Frontispiece

Frontispiece

I should have posted as soon as I got the pictures uploaded, but I wanted to expound on the process a little.  Unfortunately, life, or more accurately, death, got in the way.  Not a member of my family, rather the man who rented the room upstairs from me.  I had to find the body, which was an unsettling experience.  He will be missed around here for sure.

Meanwhile, my show is up.  My colleague, Larry Donovan, and I had to agree on the arrangement on our shared wall, the wall that you see as you walk in the door.  That is the photo I called “Frontispiece”.  You can tell which are mine.

The longest wall is next to the entry, and I managed to hang 13 of my paintings on it, allowing Larry the remaining three, smaller walls.  I had prepped 21 paintings with about five that I considered “must see”, but one of them didn’t make the cut.  Freckles, my cat portrait, just didn’t look like it belonged with all those nudes and faces.  In the end, what looked best on the wall determined which paintings won a place on the wall.

One of my new jobs for East Colony, which as a collaborative does require each member to take charge of one or more tasks needed to run a gallery, is as the keeper of the customer database.  So as that person, I had to print out our postcard labels; then as the Featured Artist I applied half of the labels to postcards (Larry did the other half), bought my postcard stamps and applied those to my postcards, and put them in the mail, all of which I accomplished Tuesday.  Now all I have to do get ready for the day itself: bring in a flower arrangement (one of the other artists volunteered to bring another one in), make sure I have enough wine at the ready (Larry’s goddaughter, a baker, is preparing eating treasures), figure out what to wear, and get there early enough to set up.  I think I can handle it.  Whew!

Next week my blog will include the half-done paintings from a workshop I have been taking with Deirdre Riley and possibly a plein air painting from Saturday, but the forecast is rain, so no promises.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn and Bernerhof Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; in the lower level of the Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

.

Artists’ Getaway Spring 2014

As promised, I have returned from our semiannual getaway to Mount Washington Valley with landscapes of the North Country.  Despite still feeling out of sorts, I pulled myself together enough to produce five small paintings.  I felt inadequate, so I took only 8×10 panels and a packet of 9×12 carton papers.  This morning I took the photographs, and I guess they aren’t so bad.  All were dry, already!  I use a lot of Michael Harding paints, which are slower drying than some for some artists, but for me, they dry fast.

Starting from the beginning, Friday morning, we gathered at “Fourth Iron”, a railroad bridge over the Saco River, near the highway (Route 302), with a parking lot made to order for painters and fishermen.  We had four new painters with us:  Bea Bearden, Kitty Clark, Jeri Bothamley, and Michele Fennel.  The “seasoned” painters were Byron Carr (the organizer of the weekend), Sharon Allen (the keeper of NHPleinAir artists), and Jim O’Donnell.  We were later joined by Morgan, a regular whose last name has not made it into my memory bank, and newbie Ruth Sears and her guy friend Joe.  Add to that mix the innkeepers Miriam and Nick Jacques, and you’ve got quite a lively group, ready to paint and party.

Back to the Fourth Iron.  Some of us, including me, painted the bridge; others painted the mountains; still others split off to paint nearby at the Notchland Inn, which, I learned for the first time, has a parlor designed by Gustav Stickley.  I have a painting of the Notchland Inn somewhere in my piles of landscapes, and an earlier one of Fourth Iron.  Before Hurricane Irene washed out the original road and trees, we had to hike in a little bit to get a good view of the bridge, or scramble down the riverbank to get this view we now get from the parking lot, which was created from the remains of the original road:

Fourth Iron

Fourth Iron

After lunch, we headed south to North Conway, to an area called Flat Rocks Conservation area, and found a spot on the shoulder of the road where we had nice, unobstructed views of the rocky stream flowing by.  We were interrupted by a serious rainstorm, so I never “finished” the painting.

Discovered Bridge

Discovered Bridge

After coming in for the evening, it is our custom to take in what we have been working on and lean them against whatever we can find back at the Inn, mantels, window sills, floors.  Luckily, the dog Noodles pays no attention to the wet paintings (mostly oils, a few watercolors) on the floor, and he is not a shedder (“cockapoo”–I painted his portrait as a puppy years ago).   A few artists told me they liked my “stone bridge”.  They were not, I later learned, referring to the iron bridge built on the stony embankment.  So a lousy rendition of a big rock is now officially transformed into the shadowed tunnel under an imaginary but charming stone bridge.

Saturday, Sharon and I went exploring for potential new painting spots in the valley.  We stopped at two farmhouses to interview the farmers (of alpacas and strawberries, respectively) about a mysterious road that showed up on Sharon’s GPS.  When that investigation bore no fruit, we returned to North Conway to paint behind the restaurant where we ate Thursday night.  Mary, the proprietress had told us we were welcome to paint there anytime, and it was a fantastic view across the valley with the Saco River cutting through.  I, however, turned my back on that view and took on the fantastical restaurant itself.  Ambitious.

In Back of May Kelly's

In Back of May Kelly’s

Mary brought us coffee and two huge slices of gluten-free chocolate cake, so that was lunch and so much for sticking to my diet.  We finished up about two thirty and went back to the Inn (Bartlett Inn).  A very tall, very old white birch was still standing on the grounds in front of the cabins, and it was slated for removal, so Sharon and I each painted a portrait of it, dead but still beautiful.

Last Hurrah

Last Hurrah

 

That evening, as is our custom, all of the artworks were produced for comment.  This is when I learned of the Stone Bridge.  When asked which of my paintings was my favorite, I said the birch.  Either the company disagreed with me, or they were anxious to help me make it better–whatever, it elicited several points of criticism:  the foreground rock was too prominent and should probably be removed totally; the background green was . . . too strong?; the tree on the left was too distracting–it should be de-emphasized by bringing in branches crossing in front, or perhaps (my own suggestion) soften its edges (that is magenta on its right edge!).  What do you think?

Sundays we usually pack up, check out of the Inn, and look for one last painting location before wending our ways home.  Thanks to Sharon the explorer, this year we collected near a marshy area south of Conway, at Dollof Pond, with a view of Mount Washington.  I looked it up on Google maps and found another pond nearby that I wish we could paint just for its name:  Pea Porridge Pond.  Oh, well, cheating not allowed.

Blue View (off Dollof Hill Road)

Blue View (off Dollof Hill Road)

Thus ended the tenth annual Spring Getaway.  I felt strangely unfulfilled.  The next morning, Monday Life Group got me out of bed and into the studio.  I brought a used panel, not even sanded down, not even toned over.  To reduce distractions from the old painting, I applied a layer of burnt sienna, then added Gamblin’s Fast Matte ultramarine blue.  Of course, these underlayers would not dry in time for me to paint over them, so I was asking for trouble, double trouble.  The photo below isn’t good either, because light catches the wet paint on all those little protrusions.  I dialed the exposure down to minimize the light bumps for  you.

Nude with Texture

Nude with Texture

Something about this painting really appeals to me.  The flesh may be a little “muddy” but color is all relative anyway, so I’m not bothered by that.  What thrills me is that her right leg looks so real, so fleshy!  Her face isn’t bad either.  If only I had just a little more time to bring all of it up to that level of accomplishment.

Now I am moving into Panic Mode over the imminence of my Featured Artist stint at East Colony.  I have to “hang” this coming Saturday!!  OMG.  But then it will be done and all I have to do is enjoy.  I am paired with Larry Donovan, an artist whose works I noticed long ago at East Colony, so I feel quite honored to be in this position.  Who’d a thunk a few years ago, when I hardly knew what was up?  We are looking forward to seeing all our friends and collectors at the reception on Sunday, June 8th, from two to four.  He wanted two to five, but I am just not up to three hours on my feet, making nice.

I am looking forward to seeing YOU if you are at all able to come, if not to the reception, then at some point between May 24 and June 28.  Let me know when you are in town and I will try to be at the Gallery.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn and Bernerhof Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; in the lower level of the Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

.

Two Sittings

Last week our regular figure study group met as usual, but at the end of our session, we all agreed to try to duplicate the post at the next session.  I had been happy enough with what I had after one session, except for one problem hand, so I planned today to fix the hand and start on a portrait, yet another of Becky.  Instead, I spent almost the entire second session “dithering” (some would say) with what I had.  I’m wondering if I have overworked and ruined what had been a decent painting.  Fortunately, I photographed the earlier version so we may compare the two:

Small work in progress

Small work in progress

 

After second sitting

After second sitting

I am inclined to favor the second version now that I see them together.  Certainly a lot of the elements that I worked on called for help.  The model stand has a life, yet stays back where it belongs.  Her right hand looks more like a hand.  The face is more delicately portrayed.  The dark background works better to show off her skin tones.  Does anyone have a strong opinion either way?  And what do you think of the lavender shadows?  It’s what I saw today, and I have never seen them before.  My eyes may be changing, or perhaps the way we set up the spotlights did it.  I had trouble seeing what I was doing until I brought a spotlight to aim at my painting and my palette, but then I had the bright light in my eyes, and my gaze was shifting between the model  and the painting.  Terrible conditions, really, so the lavender may have been a trick of the light.  My brain misperceived.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn and Bernerhof Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; in the lower level of the Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

.

It’s About the Paint

Don’t be confused about contemporary art dialogue. Yes, concepts are important. The concept behind your art, Aline, is painting itself. Don’t forget that. Your art is about painting. If some frou-frou contemporary artist asks you what your art is about, just say: it’s about painting, and all that painting does: it’s about being flat, it’s about creating depth, too, it’s about the illusion that paint does so well, and it’s also about representing the integrity and presence of the paint itself. The content of your paintings is not just the landscape or the figure, it’s also the paint. But, tell that person you paint the figure because you are a humanist, and you are out to preserve humanity in your art. Tell him your art is a process of preservation. Explain all the ways that painting is a human process, and that that is ultimately what you are doing with your art: representing and preserving humanity in your art, through the process and medium of painting.

Cameron Bennett, April 21, 2014

Two weeks ago, my blog described the confusion and frustration I had experienced when a nonrepresentational artist challenged my mostly representational approach to painting.  One of my favorite teachers galloped to the rescue with the above advice.  In effect,  he says, there’s no quandary; I am not “just practicing”–I am “just painting”!  He explains that the whole spectrum of artistic styles, approaches and genres, representational and nonrepresentational, boils down to the handling of paint.  And when I choose to paint a figure with my paint, I do so to “preserve humanity.”  Wow.  That makes me feel important!  I’ve never been good at memorization, but that’s one phrase I am committing to memory.

Thus reinforced, I have decided that my figurative works shall be the subject of my month as Featured Artist at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery.  They constitute the most of, hopefully my best, recent works.  I have been checking them out and filling in backgrounds and fixing flaws.  Risky business, that.  But if I spoil a painting by fixing its flaws, it just goes on the discard pile.  I will have more than enough to pick from.  The two that I did last week are candidates:

Easy Chair

Easy Chair

Girl in a Newsboy Cap

Girl in a Newsboy Cap

I filled in background for these two:

Say, What?

Say, What?

Warmth in the Shadows

Warmth in the Shadows

I considered the painting below as a candidate, if I could get rid of the “snarky” expression I objected to when I first blogged about it (here).

still a WIP

still a WIP

But to do so, I had to open her eyes, I felt.  That’s a tricky proposition since I don’t have the model to look at.  It’s hard to get the whites of the eyes in shadow without it looking weird.  So I’m not sure I will ever get the eyes right.  Maybe you don’t like it anyway.  I am going to include as many clothed figures as I can come up with, so as not to overwhelm a public more accustomed to landscapes and still lifes.

Last week, East Colony celebrated the advent of Spring in New England with its annual “Petals 2 Paint” show.  28 floral designers each chose a painting or artwork to serve as inspiration for a floral display.  It was the best year ever.  Here are a few of the most original, which includes my designer:

Cauliflower and Granny Smith

Cauliflower and Granny Smith

Grace in Profile

Grace in Profile, Abstracted in Flowers

Sally's Chinese

Sally’s Chinese

Underwater Moonshine

Underwater Moonshine

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn and Bernerhof Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; in French Hall (the main building) of the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, NH; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below.  If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply“, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

.

Seeing Red

The cover story this week is my Friday painting of Becky, wherein I decided to create a bright red background to set off her figure.  Backgrounds are so often a pain in the neck.  Are there rules?  I don’t know, but I suspect there are some, and I’m pretty sure one of them is, no bright red backgrounds.  I always think of Rembrandt, who knew a thing or two about painting portraits.  All his backgrounds are dark and subdued.  You don’t notice them because you aren’t supposed to notice them.  Sargent, too.  But what about Cezanne?  He did at least one self-portrait in which the background was a quirky yellow and orange pattern of expressive shapes.

Cezanne, Self-Portrait

Cezanne, Self-Portrait

I decided to go with Cezanne on Friday, and express myself in red.

DSC_0001

I started this painting still puzzling over the “practice or paint?” conundrum, so I gave myself permission to play around.  But this is what happens:– pretty accurate portrait, rendered about as tightly as I ever get in a three-hour session.  Perhaps the red background is my inner abstract artist expressing frustration!

Saturday we had our last Saturday Life Group meeting until next Fall.  Becky was again the model.  After the quick one-minute poses, the five-minute pose and the ten-minute pose, I got a back view for the 20-minute pose.  That was OK, because it meant my side of the room would get a frontal view for the next, longer pose.

DSC_0004 DSC_0003

However, we paid dearly for that privilege with the last long pose (“long” in this group means between 40-60 minutes).  I could have moved to a different part of the room in order to get more of her body in view, but all of us in my corner went with what we got:  Half a back, a head of hair, and a draped cube.  All three of us deployed color to add interest.  I brought out the compressed charcoal to better make an impression of expression.  Compress expressive impression?  Whatever.  It’s the liveliest of the three:

Stripes with Hair

Stripes with Hair

Change of Subject:  What is majorly on my mind these days is my upcoming stint as the Featured Artist at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery.  Larry Donovan and I are sharing the spotlight for the month of June.  We have talked a little about serving up a coordinated theme, and we have picked a title that will permit just about anything from either of us: Through the Artist’s. . . [Window/Eyes/Viewpoint]–one of those words.  My dilemma is what to showcase:  portraits, nudes, landscapes, or those few abstract-y paintings I have produced.  I am so conflicted that I am ready to trash all the good advice about picking one style or facet and just put up my favorite works whether they look like they came from a single artist or not.  For example, I’d like to show this little half-hour plein-air sketch as well as the six-hour “Margaret and Her Nook“:

Water's Edge

Water’s Edge

Sometimes I discover value in a pile of forgotten panels.  I never photographed Water’s Edge before, but I did frame it and hang it on my wall, where I grew ever fonder of it.  Such a slow-growing affection is a stark contrast to Margaret and Her Nook, which I knew was going to be a successful painting before I had even finished it.

I am planning to construct a floating type frame for “Darkly” as advised by my mentors [see wailing a week ago here, and the painting here], and I am wondering–if I made similar frames for all the paintings I want to feature in June, would that unify them sufficiently to allow my public to appreciate the disparate styles?  Each painting would be mounted on a larger backboard painted black, which backboard will be framed in a simple box, also painted black.  Water’s Edge might call for a narrow gold fillet around the painting itself.  I’m thinking that is the only way I could get away with showing my crazy quilt of art.  But will Margaret shine from such a frame?

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn and Bernerhof Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; in French Hall (the main building) of the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, NH; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

 

Just Practicing

I got my head spun around this week by a glimpse into the perspective of another kind of artist, the kind that has found a home in the world of “contemporary” art.  I am using the word “contemporary” here in the sense that has come to be associated with it in the art world, namely, nonrepresentional art.  Plenty of contemporary (in the original meaning of the word) are painting representational pictures, elegantly and successfully, but it seems like few of them are represented by tony NYC galleries or being acquired by museums.   There’s a bias in favor of abstract.  All the buzz goes to the unconventional.  Something called a “concept” has become more important (perhaps) than the skillful execution.   What I have been working on these past nine years is skillful execution, and I’m not even there yet.  But if only I could reorient my brain in the direction of coming up with concepts, I might not need to get any better with the representational skills.

This particular angst is nothing new for me.  What is new is the spin, the perspective, the insight.  I was at a gathering of students celebrating the last class with a party.  At Bea’s, of course.  I had taken the same class last semester.  It was the Explore, Express, Exploit class, triple E we call it–the class in which I tried very hard to do something different.  See, e.g., prior blogs here and here.  The party included a critique, not just by the class instructor (Patrick McCay), but by all present, students and professors.  Tongues had been loosened by copious supply of wine, and the critiques soon dissolved into many conversations occurring simultaneously and uproariously.  Being on a diet, my wine intake was limited to one glass, so I was able to observe and be entertained by the chaos.   It was such good sport that, when they ran out of paintings to critique, demand was made for me to submit two of my paintings from last semester to the withering analyses.  (I had the two outside in my car because they were on their way in the a.m. to the Institute for hanging in an exhibit.)  So, yes, they were framed, and clearly “finished”.  Nevertheless, many potential improvements were found by half the crowd and denigrated by the other half, all good fun and maybe a little educational, and the party was about to come to an end, its ostensible purpose having been fulfilled, when a visiting dignitary, the dean of something and second in command at the Institute, demanded to know what direction I was going, given that one of my paintings had ended up representational and the other did not.  (That may be the longest sentence I have ever written!)  I tried to dodge the question, which was not difficult since everyone else in the room was still talking all at once, but he silenced the room and insisted that I provide an answer.  Ahhhgh!  I confessed that I had no idea where I might be headed, that in fact my usual MO was plein air painting and working from the live figure.  Both, I didn’t have to say, being totally representation.  So he said, and I quote, “That’s just practice.”

I don’t really disagree–what I have been doing is a lot of practicing, but toward what?  For the first time, I wondered if there is a chance for me to see over the fence into that field of unconventionality, that field seeded with new concepts.  One needs a goal, and I guess the one I had set for myself was to become a portraitist.   But I haven’t been working very hard toward that goal lately, and maybe that is the fault of my goal, not of me.  If  portraiture is not the right goal for me, then I can’t stay excited about it.  It may be time for me to Explore more deliberately an Expression that is beyond representational.  Exploitation, what’s that?

Meanwhile, I am still practicing.  Last Tuesday’s figure session produced this one:

Beard with Hands

Beard with Hands

His forehead is too high, but I can fix that.

Friday I had a simultaneous committee meeting and the need to drop off those two paintings competing for my attention, so I took in my charcoals.  In the first 20 minutes I produced a drawing that I liked so much that I could not bring myself to touch it after the break.

Ghost Face

Ghost Face

My start-over produced this drawing.

Becky, A Head Shot

Becky, A Head Shot

Her nose is too long.  Damn!  Too-long nose cannot be fixed without resizing the whole bottom half of the face.  [I fixed a problem with the shape of her left eye–on our right–that I only noticed after posting the image to my blog.]

Today, I decided at the outset not to obsess over any details, to try to be conceptual instead of representational–just as I have decided at many outsets before this.  Today, however, I have the added consideration of last Thursday’s critique.  Sure, I had that Friday as well, but it was too new then.  Hadn’t sunk in.

Sweet Thinking

Sweet Thinking

Is it, in terms of direction, an inch or two away from my usual?  I kind of think so.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn and Bernerhof Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; in French Hall (the main building) of the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, NH; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

Back to Figure School

A major disappointment to me was the cancellation of a workshop with Dan Thompson at the Institute.   It was to be on the subject of painting the portrait from observation.  I took an earlier portrait class with Dan Thompson and I wrote about it in this blog.  (here)  So instead of advancing my practice of portraiture, I was dealing with a broken furnace that week.  It was a cold week, too.  I may have mentioned being too cold to sit very long in my computer room.  Lots of stuff got wait-listed that week, a fact whose relevance is hinted at below.  (Ending a sentence with two prepositions!  Exciting times!)

Our weather has shown dramatic improvement lately.  For instance, I haven’t been wearing a coat.  What have I been doing with my time?  Not painting.  Paperwork.  Meetings.  Reports.  Nothing you would want to hear about assuming I were free to tell.  I found only two recent paintings that you have not yet seen, and one of them I never intended anyone to see.  I dislike it for being too dark and sultry.  But in my desperation I have reconsidered, and hope it looks no worse than work that I have seen better artists display proudly.  To some, dark and sultry is a virtue.

Dark and Sultry

Dark and Sultry

No, it’s no good.  I still don’t like it.  Ironically, this is the same model whose face I tormented in the Dan Thompson workshop mentioned above.

My other painting I like quite a lot, just not sure why.  It’s accurate, it has good lights and darks I think, proportions good, skin tones good, composition good, etc.  But what’s it about?  Can I show it?  What the heck do I title it?  As you can see, for now the title refers to the light source.

Overhead Lighting

Overhead Lighting

The painterly quality may be what I like most about this painting.

The overhead light source is thanks to Jack, our newest member.  Jack retired from a career as a filmmaker and photographer, so he has some great equipment that he shares with us.  If I recall correctly, the overhead light is composed of 400 watts of illumination, covered by a diffuser so it doesn’t blind the artists

Well, tomorrow is another day, isn’t it? Scarlett was right.  But literally, tomorrow is Tuesday, another life group day, and I might, I just might do something worthwhile.  It keeps me going back.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Bartlett Inn and Bernerhof Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

<a href=”http://fineartamerica.com/art/all/nude/canvas+prints&#8221; style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>nude canvas prints</a>

3 drawings and a painting

I confess–I haven’t done much art in the past month, since my return from Florida.  I might be suffering a little bit of burnout.  Or discouragement:  I received yet another rejection from the Oil Painters of America.  Will I ever paint a picture good enough to win OPA’s seal of approval?  If I live long enough, and then only maybe.  Perhaps I should switch to painting still lifes.  I met an artist older than I who entered the field later than I, taught himself from materials found on the internet, and concentrates on paintings of one kind of object in still life paintings.  Not a beautiful object per se, but so lovingly and beautifully rendered by this artist that he wins prizes, and gets into OPA exhibits.  I long ago resolved to stick to the one medium so as not to spread myself too thin, but perhaps I should also have chosen to stick to one, still, subject matter. I’ve always had a serious tendency to bite off more than I could chew.

Then there was the weather:  My answer to the cold and snowy conditions was to favor drawing to painting–lugging around the oil paints and easel is that much greater a burden when you are slipping on ice or slogging through snowdrifts.  In a related story, not at all helping to get me out of this funk, was the loss of heat for a week, last week.  Oh, the irony!  I had an automatic generator installed after the freak October blizzard shut everything down in 2011, yet lost heat earlier this year due to an electrical problem.  This second loss of heat was due to a malfunction in the furnace, but we screwed around for days trying to solve the issue without going to the pro.  Lesson learned.  Go to the pro immediately, damn the expense.

On a more upbeat note, recently I was in the news!  In a good way.  The Bernerhof exhibit got some publicity, and the reporter used the material that I had written up for my contributions very carefully and accurately.  Stellar job!  Here is a link to the article.   Bernerhof article  The stuff about me appears on the third page.  I’m confident there will never be a better article written about my painting.

Between the Tuesday Life Group, the Friday Life Group and the Saturday Life Group, I did get in some art making.   I have picked out my favorites over the last month to show you.  I believe, despite the judgment of the odious OPA, they are, you know, kind of, like, OK.

Margaret in B&W

Margaret in B&W

Dennis, Shirtless

Dennis, Shirtless

I managed to rein in all urges to polish his face, humming a mantra in my head “Carolyn Anderson”.  (She who can suggest all with a single stroke.)

Georgia, Reclining

Georgia, Reclining

Shelley's Back

Shelley’s Back

On the last two, because they presented a simplified view of the figure (no breasts!), I was able to spend time on representing the quality of the flesh and drapes more accurately.  Each of those two poses lasted about 50 minutes.  In 50 minutes,  you are lucky to just get the drawing close to accurate.  In hindsight, I particularly appreciate how I rendered that draped pillow under Georgia’s head, and particularly regret leaving that clump of hair looking so stiff.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth;  at the Bartlett Inn and Bernerhof Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page.  If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

Oscar Night

Finishing my Oscar Night painting was a top priority when I got home after my Florida trip, along with tax returns and a report that I have to make annually to the Sierra Club regarding my NH chapter’s activities.  (I mention that nonart stuff as an excuse for not posting a blog last week, as if anyone noticed.)  The title of my Oscar painting is “Going for Gold”, and there is no longer any reason to conceal the title of the movie it represents–our Oscar Night party took place Saturday.  Nobody had much difficulty matching my painting up with “Chariots of Fire.”  Some other artists made it very hard to discern their movie, but not my favorites: Bruce Jones’ circus scene (“The Greatest Show on Earth”) and Rick Dickenson’s portrait of the ship that played the Bounty in “Mutiny on the Bounty”.  I wish I had thought to snap a picture of each of them, but I found them on our Facebook page:

Image 2 Image 3

You can figure out which is which, can’t you?  And that is a wonderful photo of Elaine Farmer laughing in front of the Bounty.  For more pictures of the event:  Facebook page for East Colony Fine Art, with photos of the shindig.    Here is a snapshot of our group, those of us who stuck it out to the end, anyway.  (I was not the only one feeling the pain.)

East Colony Artists on Oscar Night

You’d never know that we usually have a hard time finding anything to wear that is not spotted with paint, much less something fancy to wear on the Red Carpet.  We had an actual Red Carpet laid down as you approached the entrance to our Gallery, and other trappings, including champagne, of an extravagant star-studded celebration.  Popcorn too, for the unstar-studded populace.  A large, flat screen TV was playing snippets from our Oscar-winning movies, with music, but the crowds precluded us from taking it in–but crowds are a good thing.  The game of matching paintings with Oscar titles was taken very seriously by everyone, even though nobody was sure of what the prize was going to be.

And here, at long last, is the absolute final version of Going for Gold.

DSC_3658

I took it in to hang last Monday, but then realized that I did not like the frame.  More precisely, I loved the frame by itself, which was a match to the one on “Margaret and her Nook” (see next photo), but not on this particular painting.  So I took it home again, and rooted around in my frame inventory to  come up with a modest, thin frame.  I wanted black, but could only find gold.  So I added the vertical black strips on each side to simulate a black border.  (I’m sure my faulty photography is responsible for the left border  above looking slanted.)  The new borders were barely dry when I hung the painting Friday afternoon.  Here is how it looked on my wall:

Image 1

See, straight borders on both sides.  Above the Oscar painting is one I call “Athabasca Falls” because, you guessed it, it is a painting of Athabasca Falls in Alberta, Canada, as night was falling.  Long story, that.  And on the right you see Margaret and her Nook.  On the pedestal is a giclee of Freckles, a cat I used to know–and love.  That’s my browse bin with other giclees on offer.  I’m not sure who the gentleman is–he was sitting with his wife on a big ottoman and I could not ask them to move.  Behind him is a short bio and photo of me hanging in a frame.  This is my “half space” for two months.  Some “half spaces” are a little larger than this one; usually I can hang about six paintings, but then, all three of these were larger than my usual.

I have been bad at getting the word out about these events.  In June I will be sharing the Featured Artist spot with Lawrence Donovan.  He’s the guy in the front, on the right, in the tuxedo.  We are trying to work out a theme that we can both live with.  And I have resolved to beat the drum very loudly to get everyone I know out for my opening reception.  So get ready, y’all!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth;  at the Bartlett Inn and Bernerhof Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page.  If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

Two Works Progressing

I painted a second layer on my Oscar Night piece entitled “Illustrating Heroic Effort”.  I tackled it intending only to tinker with the background, but the figure jumped under my brush.  Also, I thought I should let you know a little secret:   that painting does not come in the horizontal shape that I shared with you last week.  My composition required that horizontal format, but I didn’t want to use a large, expensive, stretched canvases for this short-term-gratification project, and I didn’t want to buy a custom frame for it.  My solution was to center the action on a 12×16 canvas and paint black voids at top and bottom so that the illustrated part looks as if it is coming to you via TV, where the wide-screen movies are presented with black bands top and bottom.

Oscar Night phase 2

Oscar Night phase 2

Here, for the sake of comparison, is phase 1:

Illustrating Heroic Effort

Illustrating Heroic Effort

The biggest change that I have made to Version 2 is the darkened background.  Peter Granucci has taught me that every well-designed painting is either mostly light, or mostly dark.  I was having trouble deciding which way I wanted to go with this one.  Version 1 is the mostly light version, with the dark accents (also necessary) being the shadow side of the figure.  This version 2 is a mostly dark version, with the highlights (again necessary) being the lit side of the figure.  However, the sky and ocean are also light.  Too much light perhaps, for a mostly dark painting.  I’m leaning toward returning to mostly light.  I think the black voids on top and bottom go better with the higher key value scheme.

After painting this layer, I received belated but good advice from Cameron Bennett, who, as an illustrator himself (which I had forgotten because all the courses I took with him were for doing portraits), took an interest in my ruminations re illustration vs. Fine Art.

Oops!  That term “Fine Art” beacons me down a detour that I eschewed last week but can no longer suppress (what?  you never mixed a metaphor?):  so many terms used in the field of art are terms that sound generalized  but that have come down to us with meanings very specific.  Fine Art is not art that is lovely or “fine” but something that is created to be sold in an art gallery or be exhibited in an art museum.  A lot of it is not lovely.  “Genre”  usually would mean a “kind” or “category” of painting; instead, it refers to a specific subject matter (ordinary people and places, daily life) for painting.  “Modern Art” doesn’t mean art that is modern, in the sense of being made today–not even in the sense of breaking away from classical traditions; Modern Art refers to a specific collection of nonrepresentational art made between 1900 and 1950, give or take.  (“Nonrepresentational” means, at least as I am using it here, without attempt or desire to accurately represent reality.)  “Contemporary Art” used to mean art that is made by living artists, but now it excludes representational art and includes dead artists, and is working its way toward meaning the nonrepresentational art of the period between 1950 and . . . ?    I wonder if this sort of morphing of general terms into terms of art (pun slightly intended) occurs in other fields as well.  I can’t think of any in the field of law.

Anyway, Cameron gave me some specific suggestions that I hope to implement before my annual Florida trip (next week).  Mainly, the hands are not sufficiently suggestive of motion.  It just looks like I can’t paint hands.  (Maybe I should insert well-painted hands in a box in the corner so as to squelch that impression.)  Version 2 might be a little better in this regard.  The increased blurriness just happened when I painted the new background over the hands.

My other Work in Progress is actually no longer in progress, but I have the in-progress photo to show you where I was with it at midpoint.  This was a  two-session pose, so I chose a larger canvas (20×16) for it.

Soft Treatment wip

Soft Treatment wip

At this point, I was intending to paint the pattern on the coverlet and was also prepared to fuss quite a bit with the yellow drape.

Formalism with Becky

Formalism with Becky

By the following week, I had lost interest in the coverlet and had become more concerned with unifying the color scheme.  So I slashed ruthlessly at the drapings.

I never did get around to painting the left side of the (unstretched) canvas.  I can cut away those two inches, but if I do, I’ll have to saw down a panel to mount it on and order a custom-sized frame for it.  I’m not sure it’s worthy of that much respect.  If only the facial expression hadn’t turned out to be so snarky!

Here’s how it would look as a 12×16:

Cropped Version

Cropped Version

Strangely, I find I miss that slashed coverlet treatment, which probably demonstrates how schizoid I am between classical representation and modernistic suggestion-of-reality representation.

Thank you for listening to me work this all out.  I see now that what I need to do is fix that snarky expression and then reevaluate the amount of respect due this painting.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page.  If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

Pussycats and Ignudi

Fur. Final

Fur. Final  20×16

I finally “finished” (I had to stop fussing with it because deadline to submit was Friday) Fur.  Note the size of the painting–it is much bigger than life.  I’m pleased with its furriness, and proud of the gold heart locket which I dreamed up without any help from a reference photo.  Now, cross your fingers in the hope that the juror for this exhibit, Eric Aho, isn’t a dogs-only lover, and isn’t allergic to cats (but I am, so that’s not determinative).

I don’t often create something specific in response to a call for art, but in the case of Purr,  oops, I meant Furr,  I like to think the Call for Art got me thinking, which led to the inspiration to paint this particular picture.  The title and theme is “LOVE”, and the juror is an abstract landscape artist whom I greatly admire, which made me stop and consider the possibilities.  The idea of Love led, of course, immediately to the idea of Cats, and thence to the idea of the fur that makes cats so lovable.  To tie more unmistakably into the exhibit theme(as if that mattered!), I included the heart locket.  The claw showing at bottom left is my acknowledgement of the unpredictable and imperious nature of Cat, whose soft furriness conceals a weapon to punish whoever fails to give proper respect.  All that thought, but the result is likely to be yet another canvas stashed away in a portfolio.   That doesn’t matter.  What matters is, I painted.  I submitted.  I tried.

Our model for Tuesday Life Group showed up armed with thumbnail reproductions of Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, from which selection we were to choose a pose.  The pose we chose was one of the  twelve naked, male figures lounging in the corners of each of the three major sections.  Before going any further, I’d better show you the drawing that resulted:

After Michelangelo Ignudi

After Michelangelo Ignudi

We were puzzled by the wreath—an item I associated more with Roman emperors than with Christian iconography.  On a whim,  I included it in my drawing, and was pleased with the effect–it added interest and weight to the top of the page, but I didn’t believe that had been Michelangelo’s purpose in so adorning these particular figures.  So I was off to Wikipedia to find the explanation.  Turns out the wreaths are acorn wreaths, and the figures wearing the wreaths are called “Ignudi”.  And that’s it.  No more knowledge to be had.  There is a suggestion that they could be angels; angels don’t necessarily come equipped with wings.  As for what the Ignudi were doing in the corners, I bet they are purely decorative.  Those corners would have looked “naked” without the Ignudi.  According to Wikipedia, the painting of the Ignudi demonstrates, more than any other figures on the ceiling, Michelangelo’s mastery of anatomy and foreshortening and his enormous powers of invention.  So there you are–he was showing off.  Not so different from the reason I included the wreath in my drawing.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Sublime to . . . .

Rebecca in Silhouette

Rebecca in Silhouette

It probably looks as if I am obsessed with shadows, but there was another reason (excuse?) for me ending back on the shadow side of Rebecca last Friday.  I thought we were going to have seven artists crowded in the East Colony studio, so I set up in the far corner.  It didn’t hurt that I was next to an electrical outlet (hot water teapot and easel light).  And with my recent interest in the abstract, how awful could it be to gaze directly into the light?

The bluish structure in the background is a big ladder on which we clipped the spotlight.  Remembering how Assael dramatized his nudes, with red spotlights, I pretended my spot was orangish.  I give myself a pass on the likeness because of the difficulty in seeing into the shadow against the light.  I like it a lot, so it is Sublime.

Fur (wip)

Fur (wip)

. . . Ridiculous?  This is phase two of the Love project that I described two weeks ago (here).  I don’t really have a plan for finishing it.  I will keep playing with it until I am satisfied or until I have made a mess of it.  Right now we need some whiskers to punctuate the fur, and the heart-shaped locket could be improved.  Maybe a catchlight in the eye that is showing?  It does live up to its title, I hope.

Not much else in the way of art making got accomplished.  Christmas was a wonderful surprise, with all my family together for our big breakfast, an event which not even an abscessed tooth could ruin.  Today the tooth got taken care of, and I am still in recovery from that experience.  Not that bad really, but a shock to the system.  An excuse to goof off.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  for one more week at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

A Step Backward

I was shocked to realize that I had regressed last week, after having absorbed, I thought, the teachings of Steven Assael, this thought having been based on the successful portrait of Margaret three weeks ago.  More Blue, more blue, was his mantra.  Instead, last week, I saw red in the shadows of “Shadow Side”.  And painted red.

Here are the Work in Progress from two weeks ago, then the “finished” RedVersion from last Tuesday (camera phone), and finally, the corrected version:

WIP No. 5 with camera

WIP No. 5 with camera

Red version

Red version

The Shadow Side of Rebecca 20x16

The Shadow Side of Rebecca 20×16

Fortunately, I saw my horrific error the same day, last Tuesday, and left the painting out on the cold (brrr!) porch so that the paint would not dry.  Saturday I took it with me to work on while I was sitting gallery at East Colony.  To amend the skin tone, I used Michael Harding’s “Kings Blue” and kind of massaged it into the skin with  sable and fan brushes, little by little.  You can imagine with what trepidation I embarked on this voyage, but I had determined that the painting was a total loss without this correction, so I had to give it a try.

I wonder why it is so hard for me to see the blue in what’s before me.  Before I had my right-eye cataract surgery, I had never seen the blue and purple in shadows.  I had been taking it on faith, assuming it was a convention adopted by artists, that making shadow colors cool was the true path.  Imagine my amazement when I saw my first purple shadow on my street.  Wow!  So maybe the left-eye cataract is hampering my ability to see cool colors in living flesh tones.  Why not in the paintings?  People who are “color-blind” are so both in reality and in illustrations–I assume.

A number of weeks ago, I did a nice portrait of Nancy, my daughter.  It was done practically in the dark.  She was lit, but my easel and palette were not.  Nevertheless, I am pleased with the likeness and the expression.  Nancy has been through a lot of hard stuff, and something of that shows on her face, although it remains as beautiful as ever.

Pensive Nancy

Pensive Nancy

I delayed photographing this painting because it generates impossible glare.  Even as dry as it is now, I cannot find any angles or lighting that eliminate glare.  I used my blemish retouch tool in iPhoto to smear away a lot of it, but the result is disappointing.  Yet another puzzle for me to sort out.  Life is good.

The most recent painting is from our Friday Life Group session.

On Yellow Drape

On Yellow Drape

By this time I had acquired a little clip-on easel light.  For a change, I could see what I was painting in the East Colony studio.  (We have been keeping overhead lights off so as to increase the drama created by our spotlight on the model.)  I had intended to paint another portrait, but was charmed by the pattern of light and shadow on her body.  Full figure on a tiny canvas (10×8).

If you are reading this blog posting in a timely fashion, you are probably like me, a Christmas downplayer.  At this stage of my life, I resent complications that distract me from the art and other appointed tasks.  I will be so glad when it is over, and with two days to go, I am still pondering what I should do for my loved ones.  Their walls must be reaching saturation point with the paintings I shower upon them.  But I do truly wish all of you the best experience possible during these challenging days.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Duality Continues

Before I get into certain issues involving the EEE class, check out these pretty decent likenesses I achieved  using charcoal on Mi-Tientes pastel paper.  First, from the Friday life group, here is Rebecca.

Portrait, Rebecca December 2013

Portrait, Rebecca December 2013 (12×9)

I truly cannot count the number of times I have tried to do a portrait of Rebecca, with varying degrees of success.  I posted a bunch of them in this blog (“A Month of Beckys”) about 7 months ago; over a year ago I included the very first one here in a blog titled simply “Becky”.  Despite the annoying texture of the pastel paper (I chose the more highly textured side by mistake),  the one I just completed is the best.  That’s encouraging since it means I am still improving and have not yet hit my limit, if there is one.

My other likeness attempt came as part of the Saturday Life Group’s meeting.  A popular male model whom we have not seen for many months was back in NH, and one pose gave me the opportunity to try for a likeness of his face.  Looks pretty accurate to me, but I may be biased.  Here are both of the longer poses from Saturday–the first one, as you will see, did not afford any view of the face–and I remembered to use the smoother side of the paper:

Mike No. 1

Mike No. 1

Mike No. 2

Mike No. 2

Drawing a man who is “ripped”, as they say, is a lot of fun, and just what we needed after so many months of rounded flesh.

Putting all that likeness stuff aside, we can get to the bigger issue: can Aline come up with a paintable abstract concept, and go on to paint it appealingly?  Jury is still out, but hope has not stopped springing.  The two that I am going to show you are both from the EEE class, of course.  Thursday was our last class.  Many of my classmates intend to take it again in the Spring.  I, however, am putting my money on the Master Portrait Workshop with Dan Thompson and don’t feel I can afford the luxury of taking two courses in a single semester.  But I stray from the main story:  the EEE class adjourned halfway through our allotted time at the Institute to regroup at Bea’s place, to eat, drink, be merry, and critique each other’s works.  First up was my now-familiar abstracted landscape evoking stained-glass windows and Monet.  Patrick stood by his initial eval, but my classmates objected strenuously to the light-colored wedge, which they felt was distracting.  Peter Clive was present as well, so I asked for his opinion.  He advised repeating the wedge shape in the lower right corner.  Classmates seemed happy with that solution.  Therefore, on Sunday, after having endured a few restless nights trying to make sense of that advice, I dutifully inserted Wedge Minor into the masterpiece (please hear that with ironic inflection).   This smaller echo remains  as unexplained as the original Wedge Major.  Fortunately, it being abstract, I didn’t have to justify it in terms of a representing a recognizable object.  Most important, the new element has to blend into the scene as if it had always been there.

DSC_0005

This is your first view of this piece as translated through my Nikon SLR, so this version looks better simply because of that.  I had the devil of a time getting an image without glare inasmuch as I had ladled on the paint and parts of the painting will reflect glare no matter where you set up the light sources.  My solution was to go with less light and increase “exposure” in the editing room.  Details got lost, however.  There are more of the red dots in the middle background, for instance.

My last EEE project, started Thursday after a lot of planning, is complicated.  Shiao-Ping Wang presented a program at the recent meeting of the Manchester Artists Association, a program that I had, as program director, requested of her.  “How do you translate an abstract concept into a work of art?”  She showed us how she did it, explaining how her love of water became represented by a specific shape that she repeated in many inventive ways.  A few days after that, I saw a call for art for an exhibit on the theme “Love”, to be juried by Eric Aho, an abstract landscape artist whom I admire. Here is a short video with Eric, which gives you an idea of what he does as an abstract landscape painter.  Because of the juror and because of Shaio Ping, I decided to make an abstract painting for the show, based on something I love, namely, cats.  And fur is what I particularly love about cats.  Patrick had shown me years ago his painting of white chickens using a brayer instead of a brush.  The breasts of those chickens looked unbelievably soft and downy.  So what I intend to make is a painting about cats, using furriness as the symbol and perhaps deploying a brayer in my quest for irresistible texture.  But yet another influence out of the Contemporary Gallery of the Currier Museum led me to plan a hidden image of a larger-than-life cat face in the background of my abstract, furry foreground.  So far, I have completed only that background.  I have to let it dry now, before attempting the more difficult task of layering on the furriness without totally obliterating the face.

Love and Fur wii (20x16)

Love and Fur WIP (20×16)

(By the way, as the party was breaking up, Patrick told me that I had all of the other aspects of art making under control–I just needed more help with the conceptual aspects–advice that suggests I should reconsider my decision to take the portrait workshop instead of another dose of EEE. )

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Up and Down, Back and Forth

Well, I committed an unforgivable sin last week.  I forgot to go the EEE class!  Forgot!  Such a quixotic thing the brain is–simply because I had no Docent Training class in the morning (finally graduated), my brain relaxed, dozed off, and failed to remind me that I had the class Thursday evening.  I need a calendar that punches me in the arm a half hour before I’m supposed to be someplace.   But instead of class I had an nice dinner out with my daughter, who really needed to get some food in her system.

I had big plans for that EEE class, the next to last class in the course.  Now I have only one left and no time to make up for the lost Thursday. . . because everything takes longer that it should, and  so many unexpected chores keep popping up with regularity.   Now I am going to have to execute on my big plans without the help of the EEE class.

And by “the class” I  include not only the instructor but also my fellow students.  Here’s why.  A few weeks ago I posted a work in progress along with the finished version and cryptically (some might say “coyly”) asked you to ponder their merits before I commented myself.  Well here is my comment:  I was sitting at my easel trying the wrestle something out of the WIP version–my effort to go abstract with landscape, remember?  Not feeling it, frankly.  In an effort to achieve more drama, I was applying black paint (gasp!  I used to not even own black paint) to the areas that had drawn my mind’s eye, and then kinda went nuts with the black, finding patterns to outline all over the place.  Suddenly, I heard whisperings behind me, classmates talking about something they were admiring.  I ignored, continued my Van Gogh-like thrashing.   The classmates behind me moved in to stop me, called for Patrick to see what I was doing.  The whole class stopped and watched as the piece was placed on an easel for all to consider, and Patrick immediately without much thought at all declared it to be an “award-winner.”  I am virtually certain that now he has had a few minutes to think about it, he would take that pronouncement back.  Anyway, I was not allowed to work on it anymore, and frankly, that was OK with me, because I was sick of it.  It’s still in the classroom, left to dry, then there was Thanksgiving, then the class that I forgot.  So my image is from the phone:

Imaginary Elements

Imaginary Elements

My classmates enjoyed the stained glass feeling.  I was enjoying (somewhat) the process of applying thick, dramatic paint, but when it was over, I did not get that singing-heart feeling that some of my paintings give me.  Maybe abstract is not meant for me.  Patrick already told me not to try pure abstract.

Meanwhile, on an entirely different track, I am trying to duplicate the success of last week’s “Margaret with her Nook.”  Here is another look at Nook, with the background cleaned up:

Final--Margaret and her Nook

Final–Margaret and her Nook

Yesterday I started on the Shadow Side of Becky, and remembered to take progress pictures with my phone.  Next Tuesday, I hope to complete this painting, which is a large 20×16 oil on linen:

WIP No. 1

WIP No. 1

WIP NO. 2

WIP NO. 2

WIP No. 3

WIP No. 3

WIP No. 5 with camera

WIP No. 5 with camera

chose to be in the dark for this painting in part because I have enjoyed chiaroscuro effect that comes with drawing the figure out from darkness.  Also because I have learned that to make a figure rounded, I needed to find a bigger range of light and dark.  So far, I am liking it lot.  I just hope I find it within me to bring it to the same level of finish as I found with Nook.

Reminder to those of you within driving distance of the Currier Museum:  I have a painting hanging in the Community Gallery and you can get into the entire Museum for free if you arrive before noon on a Saturday.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Just One Thing

I went a whole week without painting!  That made me feel disconnected somehow, as if I had landed on some strange, new level of existence.  But I got other stuff done, stuff that needed to get done.  And there was Thanksgiving.  No problem there–went to my son’s house to get stuffed and was not allowed to bring even one dish.  I had to “sit” the gallery for East Colony the day before Thanksgiving, during which I read parts of some art books.  I never get around to finishing books anymore. And I copied some Van Gogh drawings out of one of the books.  On Friday I went to a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert–Brahms and Beethoven, an unbeatably enjoyable combo, enjoyed that day by probably the oldest audience I have ever seen there for the Friday matinee–younger folks were apparently out Black-Friday shopping.  Saturday, East Colony held its annual holiday gift sale, for which I contributed 6×6 panels, and someone finally bought “Toughie”.  (When I created Toughie for the Womens Caucus for Art show a few years ago, I thought Toughie would be gobbled up by the first person to lay eyes on it.) Forgot who Toughie is?  Here’s a reminder:

Toughie

Toughie

But all week I was thinking about finishing the painting of Margaret that I started last week (link here), and yesterday morning I got to do that.  Yesterday morning, the painting already looked so very close to being done  that my fellow artists asked me what I was going to do with the rest of 3 hours.  “Bask”, I replied.  But as it turned out, I had no extra time for basking.  I worked slowly and carefully and painstakingly to reach this conclusion:

Margaret and her Nook

Margaret and her Nook

The background needs cleaning up, especially around the head, where my habit of correcting the drawing by painting the negative space is revealed.  After working on this painting, I understand too well why my  slap-dash works had to be called “studies”.  Should I strive to become a more polished painter, or may I return to striving to become looser?  Can I do both?  Talk about being of two minds!  I am torn in two.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

The Ghost of Steven Assael

Actually, Steven Assael still lives, but his spirit visited me this morning.  You may remember how impressed I was by him in the course of a workshop that I took last summer.  I was impressed and frustrated.  Read all about it here.  This morning, at our regular meeting of the Tuesday Life Group,  I felt as if I had, for the very first time, successfully applied his method for painting a nude, and boy! did it feel good!  Not all of the painting is a success . . . yet.  Our model will be giving us another session next week in the same pose.  But I am so thrilled with this start that I had to share it with you.  While I was still in the act of painting, I wanted to shout out to the room for the other artists to gather around and see what I was accomplishing.  Here is the image:

Margaret and her Nook WIP

Margaret and her Nook WIP

The big deal here is the quality of the skin, especially on her back.  The key technique:  I feathered it with the fan brush that I acquired for the Assael workshop but never got around to using because I never got this close to finishing.  My heretofore preferred way of painting nudes is more impressionistic.   Perhaps the only significant difference is a simple one:  Assael feathers his brushstrokes on the skin; my Impressionistic style favors obvious unmodulated brush strokes.  I guess it has taken me several months to let go of my old conceit and actually try to create the kind of glow achieved by Assael.  To see what he did as a demo for us, click here.  This new painting method may not represent a permanent new me, but it is something that fascinates me, and offers new challenges for painting nudes.  Keeps it interesting!

And on another track, way off to the side of the above:–my exploration of abstract landscapes.  Here is a Work in Progress:

Imaginary Elements WIP

Imaginary Elements WIP

Here is the finished painting:  (I need to know what you think–then next week I will report on the class’s reaction.)

Imaginary Elements

Imaginary Elements

Here is another start on something, another abstracted landscape I guess.  I’m thinking it would make interesting wallpaper at this point, so I have to dig down and find a more compelling reason for it to continue in existence.

The Start of Something

The Start of Something

Remember how I bellyached about not have having any photographic record of all my Blackstone Valley paintings?  One of my buyers came through with an image of the Castle Hill painting that they purchased.

Castle Hill

Castle Hill

This is a fairly accurately rendered painting of funky farm buildings located in Whitinsville, Massachusetts.  I think the stone wall stole the show.  The wall was built by hand by men employed by the landowner to keep them busy (and earning money) during the Great Depression.  The funky buildings resulted from the same impulse, I believe.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Only People

I am still trying to paint an abstract landscape in the EEE class, but the current effort is kind of a mess and I left it behind to dry in the classroom.  Fresh eyes this Thursday will, I hope, inspire me with what to do to make it something I can be proud of.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working hard on the figurative side of representational art.  Some nude, some clothed, some full figure, some portrait.  I am happier with the the painted ones, but I’ll start you off with the drawings –selected drawings.  Some of them are disappointing and I don’t want the world to see how uninspired I can be.  Here’s my favorite:

Map of the Back

Map of the Back

Graphite, charcoal pencil and charcoal on drawing paper–not an ideal combination.  I was feeling my way with the media.  But I like the result moderately well.  The next pose was a standing one, with the model’s head silhouetted against the bright window.  Hard to see well enough to represent.  I tried, but am sparing you the result.  We (the Saturday Life Group which meets at the NH Institute of Art) are now drawing in a studio with side windows, instead of the studio with the overhead skylight.  I prefer the side light, but it’s hard to take when it’s in  your face.

Grumpy takes a cup of tea

Grumpy takes a cup of tea

“Grumpy” because he prefers to pose in the nude plus he can’t really enjoy that tea while posing.  We promise not to make him keep his clothes on again.

Dennis in his clothes

Dennis in his clothes

It was cold in the studio that day, so we had to let Dennis stay dressed.  He was happy about that.

Map of a different back

Map of a different back

Mike is a new to us, relocated here temporarily from California.  He’s a real pro, when it comes to modeling–comfortable and inventive with his props, like the pole and the “stool” he was sitting on.  For the next pose, I chose to draw a portrait of him:

Portrait of Mike D.

Portrait of Mike D.

At last, we’ve reached the paintings!  There are two of them, both painted in the workshop studio behind East Colony Fine Art’s gallery.  The challenge again is the lighting, but not from windows–either there’s too much fluorescent overhead, or you can’t see what you are doing.  We are wising up and bringing task lights that clip on easels, or hang around artists’  necks.

Leaning against the wall

Leaning against the wall

Challenging circulation

Challenging circulation

Well, that’s a stupid name for a painting.  Sigh.  Yes.  Do you know how hard it is to distinguish one nude (painting) from another by its title?  So many nudes, so many standing, so many sitting, so many reclining.  Then you try identifying by the color of the drape.  So many blues, so many reds, so many yellows, etc., etc.  The major distinguishing feature of the last painting was the fact that Margaret’s leg kept falling asleep.   Of course it did–what else could we have expected?  But that became my idea for a title.

The first one is of a new model and I’m not sure she would be comfortable with being identified by name, which makes titling the painting even harder.  The elements of this painting just came together so beautifully, and I quit working on it before I spoiled it.  Always a good thing.

Both paintings were done in oil, on the brown carton paper sold by Judson’s Fine Art Outfitters, with very little medium.  Does it appear to you as if I were working in pastels, not oils?  I think it’s that combination of the dry paper with the unmodified paint.  The paint drags across the surface of the paper.  When you stop to think about it, that’s what pastels are: pigments without the oil binder.  So when the paper soaks up the oil and leaves the pigment sitting on top, you get the pastel effect.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Back to the Drawing Board–Literally

Maybe it’s the result of my overbooked life, but I suddenly found myself longing for the simplicity and discipline of the black and white drawing.  Never mind that it turns out not to be  simple after all (a fact I had almost forgotten).  Pencil drawing also turns out to be sloooow!  But drawing has acted like balm for my chapped soul.

It started a week ago Tuesday.  I was running late and really preferred to stay in bed, but I had to show up for Tuesday Life Group because I am the one with the key.  So I unearthed a drawing pad, grabbed my box of charcoals and pencils and charcoal pencils, and rushed to the studio.  My drawing pad, looking back on it, was intended for pencil, not charcoal.  I used the hard and medium charcoals that day, and the image, being mangled in the pad all this time, is greatly degraded, but I think you can tell it was a successful session:

TLG 10/22/13

TLG 10/22/13

You might wonder how I can treat a successful drawing so carelessly.  The process of making a successful drawing is pleasurable, and I have the remains of the image to remind me how pleasurable.  But nudes, especially not painted ones, don’t have any other purpose than to give me the pleasure of creating them.  No one buys them.  And I have so many stored away now that I can’t take the time to enjoy them as past projects.  When this drawing pad is full, it goes under the bed with all the others.

Next was a Friday Life Group session with Dennis again as our model.  I kept trying with the hard charcoal.

FLG 10/25/13

FLG 10/25/13

As you can see, I got enamored of the podium Dennis was sitting on, and the shadow he was casting on the wall.  And his hands, but I had to do those separately:

Dennis' Hands

Dennis’ Hands

Working on interlaced fingers is a little like working on a jigsaw puzzle.  I did them a second time hoping that my understanding would have improved with practice.  Not so much, I’m afraid.

The next day was Saturday Life Group.  We had a new model, one that was obviously a yoga practitioner.  SLG starts with five 1-minute poses, then one 5-minute, then one 10-minute, then one 20-minute.  I sketched all but the 20-minute on sketch paper.  Usually I throw them away afterward, but first made photographs for the blog:

1-3 of the 1-minute poses

1-3 of the 1-minute poses

4-5 of the 1-minutes poses

4-5 of the 1-minutes poses

5-minute pose

5-minute pose

10-minute pose

10-minute pose

In all of these drawings, I was facing the windows (our venue has changed–no more overhead skylight), so the model is backlit.  After the ten-minute pose, I changed paper pads and started using the drawing (as opposed to sketching) paper.  I still hung onto the charcoal.  I first toned the sheet with a film of charcoal powder so as to enhance the play of the backlit around the edges of her body.

20-minute pose

20-minute pose

Reclining portrait

Reclining portrait

A good likeness, this one, except I dropped a few pounds off her tummy.  Finally, I switched to charcoal pencil.

Recumbent

Recumbent

Graphite pencil got the nod for this one; by comparison to paint or charcoal, it takes a much longer time to build up the darker values. Nevertheless, I could not resist depicting the Halloween-themed drape behind her.

Dennis in pencil

Dennis in pencil

I needed a few more hours to work on the values.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  and at her studio by appointment.

Smorgasbord of Art

My artistic output last week hit all the bases:  nudes, portraiture, experimental landscapes, and plein air landscapes.

Skipping over Tuesday primarily because I don’t remember what I did and I do remember being unhappy with it, let’s start with Wednesday.  Wednesday is usually a plein air day, but not last week.  Adrienne held another one of her all-day figure study marathons, from ten a.m. until seven p.m.  I had no pep,  but was determined not to let my health issue stop me.  But I could not keep it from slowing me down.  Larry Christian and I were the only ones to stick it out to the finish, but  I had to stop painting when I ran out of surfaces to paint on.  For the last 45 minutes or so,  I watched Larry working his charcoal magic on 10-minutes poses of the two models together.

I had two interesting compositions from a side angle:

Foot First

Foot First

Girl Talk

Girl Talk

Foot First was a pose of about two hours, I think.  We were late getting up and running, and I had to cut out early to take my daughter to an appointment.  The Girl Talk pose was maybe only 20 minutes.  No, that can’t be right–it must have been at least an hour.

When the Girls next changed positions, they presented me with profiles of each.  After 20 minutes, we found a compromise to keep me happy with long views of the profiles and Larry happy with frequent pose changes.  Even as the models changed their poses frequently , they kept their profiles toward me.  My view or angle would change slightly each time, but I managed to extrapolate from a current profile to the original profile.

Two Profiles

Two Profiles

Thursday was the EEE class, wherein I am trying to discover abstract paintings in my plein air studies.  The studies were 11×14.  The class projects are 16×20.  For both, I used a lot of paint applied with a palette knife.  I love thick, juicily painted paintings, a la Van Gogh.

EEE No. 1

EEE No. 1

EEE No. 2

EEE No. 2

I was in the Mount Washington Valley and environs all weekend.  The semiannual Artists Getaway Weekend organized by Byron Carr and sustained by Sharon Allen’s cohort of plein air fanatics brought together, in addition to Byron and Sharon, Bruce Jones, Sandra Garrigan, Patricia Sweet MacDonald, Jim O’Donnell, Elaine Farmer, a Gentleman Jim from Georgia whose surname I never got.  I left for Bartlett after class on Thursday, taking only small panels (8×10) with me. I knew by that time that my fatigue will keep me from covering the usual amount of canvas.  Sure enough, I finished only four paintings over Friday and Saturday, despite the fine weather we had.

Saco Riverbed

Saco Riverbed

The Davis Farm

The Davis Farm

Thorn Hill Road View of Ledges

Thorn Hill Road View of Ledges

Mount Washington

Mount Washington

The last painting, the one of Mt. Washington, took me only little over an hour, including nodding off time. ( Patricia caught me napping with brush in hand, so there’s no point in covering it up.)  It is a simple composition, straightforward in execution.   No broken color, no short strokes, no uneven thickness of paint.  I was not surprised when many of my colleagues refused to believe it was mine.  But they agreed I didn’t likely find it under the pumpkin truck either.  I really could not have painted such a distant scene any other way on such a small canvas.

I have a new idea for this week’s EEE class:  on my way back from Bartlett, traveling the Bear Notch Road, I took some photographs of the cloud shadows on the mountains up North and am planning to make something abstract out of those images for the class this week.

left center

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  and at her studio by appointment.

Health Matters, yes it does!

You may not have noticed, but I did not publish my usual post the week of September 30, or the week of October 7. Before Friday evening, I had been drafting a post  in my head;  I planned to use it to mull over the phenomenon of retirement generating more “optional” stuff to do and the psychology of slowing down anyway just because the pressure of earning a living has been lifted.  Thinking philosophically or finding excuses, whichever you prefer.

But before I could commit those weak ramblings to the ether, an event occurred that provides a better explanation of my inability to perform at peak levels for the past weeks–perhaps the past few months, even.  Unsurprisingly, I am all over that new, more concrete excuse, like a rat diving on cheese, and say in celebration, hail to the UTI and its curability with antibiotics.

How it all went down:  I had been feeling kinda crummy for a few days, and even had a spell of faintness, but nothing interfered with my performance of essential tasks.  I got to appointments, shopped for pet food, cooked, etc.  Suddenly, late Friday afternoon, in the middle of trying to reconcile a bank deposit for one of my nonprofit organizations, I started to feel really chilly.  I suspended that banking task and went to prepare an early dinner.  I turned on the central heat and plugged in a space heater.  I kept getting colder.  By the time my hamburgers were ready to be served, perhaps only ten minutes, I was shaking uncontrollably–paroxysms might be the right word.  I couldn’t talk, much less drive.  Ambulance was called–by my 17-year-old granddaughter.  Big scare put into family.  Not so  much me– I could not focus on anything except my desire to get warm.  After a few hours of hydrating and testing in the ER, Good News!  I was in terrific health but for this one thing, a UTI (urinary tract infection), curable with the right antibiotic (Cipro).  The doctor said something about the infection being well-established, suggesting it had been present in my system for a while.  That got me thinking of a health event that occurred on my way to Castine, back in July, which I could not explain.  I looked up the symptoms (vomiting with lower back pain), but didn’t follow up with my doctor because  the symptoms evaporated.

This morning I was infused with a microburst of energy, which resulted in the images that I will be sharing with you below.  In the past three weeks, I have been more prolific than would appear from this meager supply of five images.  The weekend of the Blackstone Valley Plein Air Competition resulted in four paintings.  I forgot to photograph any of them, and had to leave them there for another month.  One has been sold, and if the other three are too, we shall be at the mercy of the buyers for decent reproductions.  It was a marvelous weekend, and I will go again next year if invited.  I’ll save the details for when I actually have visuals to go along.  Two additional paintings are at the Institute, drying.  They are from my fall semester class with Patrick McCay, called “Explore, Express, Exploit”.  They should be ready for photographing next week.

Here is the painting I made of Dennis on the Tuesday before Blackstone Valley:

Dennis in Plaid Shirt

Dennis in Plaid Shirt

I complained a lot about the plaid shirt, but I secretly was enjoying the challenge.  Looking at it now, from a new perspective, I admire the casual but effective depiction of his feet.

After Blackstone, I hit the ground running.  Well, painting.  I met up with the Cornwall Four (including me, four of us who took Cameron Bennett’s “Inspired by Cornwall” workshop in August) at a new water location in Auburn.  I identified it today from a map as Clark Pond:

Clark Pond in Auburn

Clark Pond in Auburn

The scene had everything–almost too much–bridge, the start of fall foliage, water, reflections, lily pads.  Yet I added the rock formations on the left; really, they added themselves.  The lily pads raft together to form little islands, which may confuse the eye.  One of the first lessons that I learned in my first landscape painting experience, from Stanley Moeller in 2005, had to do with water lilies.  He told me to underline them with “black”  (darkest of pigment, which was not necessarily black) to indicate the shadow they cast upon the water.  I couldn’t see but the thinnest of shadows, but he said “Trust me” and I did.  And do.  Still heeding his advice, I added the most delicate and unobtrusive of shadows under my pads.  This painting came under critical review by Peter Clive last Monday at MAA and when I am more of myself, I will be making some perfecting changes–playing down the reflections of tree trunks in the water; playing up the light on the rocks and bridge; settling down the water on the other side of the bridge, which doesn’t recede like it should.

The next day being Tuesday, I did a figurative of new model (to us) Michael, but I don’t like it, so I’m not showing it to you.  Wednesday, I was back to Clark Pond:

Clark Pond in Auburn

Clark Pond in Auburn

What a difference two days made!  We have liftoff!   (Fall foliage is a Big Deal here, where tourists flock jus to stare at our trees.  How strange is that?)

Margaret

Margaret

I wasn’t feeling too great last Tuesday, when I painted this new figurative featuring Margaret.  I get a lot of kidding about how fast I paint, so Tuesday, someone commented that I wasn’t going as fast as usual.  I felt that too, and hoped the slowing down was for the better.  I concentrated on the flesh tones, trying to get them just so, a la Steve Assael.  Now I’m wondering if it was just the UTI manifesting itself in sluggish behavior.

Friday morning we got together in the back of East Colony Fine Art Gallery to try it out as a location for figure study.  The podium is quite high since it started life as a work table.  The lighting is abominable since it consists of fluorescents over a worktable.  But there was room enough for my core group of artists, and plenty of easels.  Along with Margaret posing nude, my daughter Nancy posed clothed.  Nancy was “shadowing” Margaret to see if modeling is something she could do.  Naturally, I chose to paint Nancy:

My Daughter Nancy

My Daughter Nancy

Another plaid shirt.  She has my mother’s admirably straight nose.  We had the fluorescents off and a small spotlight on our models.

That night, of course, was the night of the ER, and I have been recovering ever since.  Now that I know what symptoms I should have noticed before, I am noticing them, but my fatigue should never have been overlookable.   I suspect the paroxysms of shivering took a lot out of me.  On the bright side, the back pain I have been putting up with for weeks has subsided–not arthritis after all!

Bottom line, I have been shirking all but the most imperative of duties.  One of those duties: I took upon myself a viewing of “Gravity” 3D on the iMax screen.  I heard it should not be viewed any other way, and I was worried I would miss out if I didn’t act today.  I can now report that the advice was justified, and worth the prioritizing.

The rest of this week will be taken up with Tuesday Life Group, trip to Boston to collect my painting at the Arboretum, and bridge–all on Tuesday, Adrienne’s Fall Figure Marathon all day Wednesday, docent training at the Currier and my Triple E class with Patrick, Thursday, then a drive to Bartlett for the 3-day Fall Artists’ Getaway Weekend.  Glad I found out what ails me before all that went down!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  and at her studio by appointment.

The Heck with Nudes!

Who would’ve thunk it?  We got bored with nudes!  So last Tuesday, we asked our model to keep his clothes on, and he was very happy to do so, being very new to the experience of modeling in the buff.  We all had a really good time, and we all produced pieces that we are proud of.  So I decided it was time for another sharing of my blog with my fellow artists.

Nancy C's

Nancy C’s

Nancy Crowley works most often in charcoal, and most often will do the whole figure.  We were surprised to see she was focusing so much on the head.  I love the blocking of light and shadow in this one.

Jan's

Jan’s

Jan Wittmer joined us very recently and has become a regular, but I can’t say I know what she usually does.   I thought this was brilliant though.  I learned later that this was her second take on this pose, which may account for the fact that it is not overworked.

Nancy H's

Nancy H’s

Nancy Healy is a pastelist, and probably the one of us with the most experience being an artist.  She always does masterful work.  You can tell she is standing at her easel.

My own

My own

This is the photo that I took with my phone, so I am not giving my image any advantage over the others.  Actually, it is at a disadvantage, being the only one in oils and therefore the only one with light bouncing off the globs of oil paint.  Ah, well.  You can tell I was sitting at my easel.

Invitations:

I had two event postcards to get out before this week, and got around to neither of them.  Coming up on Friday of this week (September 20) is the reception at the Boston Arnold Arboretum, 125 Arborway, of the Jamaica Plain Open Studio exhibition of “Artists in the Arboretum”.  The reception is in the Visitors Center and starts at 6 pm and ends at 8.  I will be there, but cannot promise to stay until 8 unless the food and company is particularly good.  The exhibit will continue through October 13, and you should confirm viewing times by calling 617-384-5209.

The second one is a “Call for Collectors and Art Enthusiasts”:  Blackstone Valley Plein Air Competition.  There will be a reception and an auction on Sunday, September 29 at 6 p.m.  The judge for the competition (known as a “juror” in art parlance) is the well known Cape Ann artist, Charles Movalli.  The competing artists are outstanding, and I guess I just feel grateful to be included.  Bev Belanger, of East Colony Fine Art Gallery, is also participating.  I should be scared to death, but I’m too old to get worked up over such things.  I think.  It would be awfully nice to see some familiar faces or names.  The address for the reception and auction:  Alternatives’ Whitin Mill, 50 Douglas Road, Whitinsville, Massachusetts.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu, an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Boston Arboretum Visitor Center, 25 Arborway, Boston; and at her studio by appointment.

The Rest of the Story

Seated Nude A

Seated Nude A

Seated Nude A is from the Tuesday session of two weeks ago.  Nancy C. urgently requested that I not make another mark on it, with about a half hour to go.  I respect her judgment, so I only clarified the feet after getting her permission.  Ii’m always saying I want to paint more loosely.  The difficulty is knowing when to stop, so I need a Nancy C. around at all times, I guess.  This is the Carolyn Anderson side of me.

Seated Nude B

Seated Nude B

I don’t know where Nancy C. was, but I got a little further into Nude B.  I think the story here is the good contrasting skin values.  I painted in broad shapes again.  Don’t you see a similarity to the figure I had going with Steven Assael’s help here?  I have to give another plug to Michael Harding’s King’s Blue.  It seems to be just the right blue to add into the shadowed skin tones.  Nowhere is it more evident than on the edges of Nude B’s shadows.  I am getting away from the more chromatic shadows that I used to indulge in, e.g., Nude A’s thigh.  One could say I improved a great deal in one week’s time, but one may be saying next week that I am just as fast a backslider.

Becky Portrait v.2

Becky Portrait v.2

This is the portrait that I was reluctant to show you as a work in progress.  The wayward eye is gone.  You can’t even notice the tiny change I made to the outside face/jaw line.  I think I should bring it in even more.  There is still something about this picture that bothers me.  What is it exactly?  I think it is the modeling of the face.  Kinda crazy, really.  I need the model back!

Here, for sake of comparison, is the version 1 next to version 2:

unfinished portrait of Becky

unfinished portrait of Becky

Becky Portrait v.2

Becky Portrait v.2

Could it be that it is the tightness that also annoys me?  I must work on loosening up in portraiture now that I am getting a feel for it in figures.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu, an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Boston Arboretum Visitor Center, 25 Arborway, Boston; and at her studio by appointment.

Making do

This is not the blog I intended.  This is a substitute blog, making do with unused photographs that I happen to have already uploaded to WordPress.  The problem is computers.  I have two computers at home now, resulting from my retirement.  I call one the Office computer, for obvious reasons, so I guess the other one is my Home computer.  Home computer is an iMac that I bought years ago, used, on eBay.  Everyone who spends any time at all in my house has their own account on Home computer.  It had been acting flaky, but only when it refused to connect to the internet did I take action.  Maybe it is a coincidence, but running Disk Repair only made it worse.  The repairs were not completed:  the program stopped in the middle and said it could not repair the disk and that I should back up what files I could and then reformat (erase) the disk.  That’s a scary message.  I never made contact with that disk again.  Well, maybe that is a bit overdramatic.  I can’t get the damn thing to start up.  I sure hope that I will be able to make contact when I get the cable that I need to connect Firewire between these two computers.  I have a drawer full of Firewire cables.  But Office computer is pretty new and has an 800 FW port, while Home computer boasts only a 400 FW port.  So I purchased a $9 400-to-800 cable on eBay and am awaiting its arrival with a heart filled with hope.  (Home computer has so many of my images, irreplaceable images.)

But in the meantime, I thought, I can bring the new images from the camera’s USB compact flash card onto Office computer, and from there to WordPress, using the card reader that used to live with Home computer.  But Office computer refuses to acknowledge the presence of this alien card.  I changed its USB cable just in case the problem lies with the cable.  Yes, I happen to have another drawer full of USB cables with every configuration possible (except the one that would connect my two computers).  Still no action.  I can see a little light blinking in the card reader, but it looks a lot wimpier than the strong light I remember from when it was paired to Home computer.  Another coincidence?  Who knows!  I am reeling.  Almost gave up on blog altogether when I realized that this very situation may be worth blogging about, ’cause everyone relates to computer frustration.

But enough of prologue.  Let’s see what I have in the media library that you haven’t seen yet.

Fletch under the Assael Influence

Fletch under the Assael Influence

This is a fairly large (16×12) study (see, I am learning at least to consider them as studies!) from a recent Tuesday Life Group session.  The Assael workshop had just ended, and I was very attentive to the shadows, making them as dark and as blue as I could.  There is also a “philosophy” that I think I observed in Steven Assael, which now infects my own:  get close, then closer, then closer, then closer, almost to infinity, until you are as close as you believe you can get.  Close to what?  Perfection, I suppose, but to break it down into parts:  value, color, shape.  Remember when he played on my painting, running over the shapes I had drawn, then left, instructing me to fix the drawing?  (Revisit that post here.)

So here’s the Assael process as digested by me:  you sketch in large shapes just to make sure the composition will work, then plug in the values and colors very roughly (as far as the drawing is concerned), then when those values and colors are “perfect”, you perfect the drawing by tightening up the shapes.

In this study of Fletch, I was trying to apply those principles without having first articulated the principles in my head, so it was haphazard.  When I ever get my photos back onto a computer under my control, you will see in my last two figure studies something closer to the Assael process, although they will look rougher.  Rougher yet closer to perfect?  How can that be?  It’s a puzzlement, and a delight, a never-ending search for the Way.

The other image I have been holding back is this work in progress–so much “in progress” that I was embarrassed to show it:

unfinished portrait of Becky

unfinished portrait of Becky

One of the images on my compact flash card is the finished–hmm, closer to finished–portrait of Becky.  I corrected the wayward eye and worked on the values and colors.  I carved back on the left side of the face as well.  Dangerous to change drawing without the model as reference, but I felt I was making adjustments on the basis of information already there.  Clearly the eye was too far to the right, so I only had to remember the shape and move it ever so slightly to the left.  (Do wish I could show you now instead of later!)  When I decided the face was too wide on the left side, I kept the same line and just moved it by millimeters (hope “millimeter” is small enough to be my meaning–let’s just say VERY small degrees) by painting the negative space:  more hair, less face. I had to trust that the line itself was accurate.  A leap of faith in myself.  Well, I had no choice, did I?

So that’s it.  I have nothing more held back, you know it all.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu, an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  and at her studio by appointment.

Sidewalk Art Show in Portland, Maine

Bruce Jones and I tried again, this time in Portland.  I had to get up at 4:20 a.m. in order to get myself and my helpers to Portland by 7:30.  This was our second experience with outdoor art shows.  Our first was the Beacon Hill Art Walk.  We enjoyed Portland more.  For one thing, we were not under the noisy, dirty elevated rail line.  For another we were not in a wind tunnel.

Our spot in Monument Square

Our spot in Monument Square

As you can see, we had an end location, thus enabling us to extend our real estate.  We spread our paintings over three extra panel surfaces, and set up our table display out of the way of browsers.  I stacked about 12 unframed panels on the table for bargain hunters.  Bargain-hunting art collectors may be an oxymoron:  People enjoyed looking but no one asked for the price.

Bruce and me waiting for business

Bruce and me waiting for business

The day was gorgeous–so crisp in the morning that my daughter brought two sweatshirts with her.  But the temperature heated up as the day weathered on, and by the end of the day, I was sunburned.   I carry sunscreen and insect repellant in my plein air pack, but never thought to bring those things to an art show.  Another thing we didn’t think to bring was bags to put the art in if we sold something.  Whew!  Good thing we didn’t sell anything!  I am now pricing clear bags with die-cut handles and wondering if they will be strong enough for a large painting in a heavy frame.  I’d have to buy a box of at least 250 of them to find out.

I brought 20 paintings to hang on what turned out to be six display panels, and this time out, most of them were figurative.  Half of the figures were nudes.  Cameron will perhaps be pleased to learn that I hung 4 out of the 5 paintings I completed in his “Inspired by Cornwall” course.  You wouldn’t think anyone would care about paintings of people whom they don’t even know, but my paintings and drawing of black women attracted the most attention.   Also, consider that fact that someone bought my portrait of the black African girl (“Red Headdress”) at the Londonderry Art in Action.   Pretty interesting phenomenon.  My landscapes were almost totally ignored.

Side A: My Figures

Side A: My Figures

Side B, my mixed; Side C, Bruce's

Side B, my mixed side; Side C, Bruce’s landscapes

But in the end, the results were the same as Beacon Hill–no sales.  We watched as the guy across the square from us sold his giclee prints like hotcakes; we had to admire his organization and salesmanship.  We didn’t bring any giclee prints.  But we handed out cards and may hear from those interested art lovers as a result of meeting them there.   Probably not this one:

Image 56

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu, an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; at the Currier Museum of Art, also in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

Mixing it Up

I don’t have any major project under construction (like the poster competition), but I am keeping busy with the paint.  Having lots of smaller projects of different kinds makes me happy.  In fact, it dawned on me quite recently that I don’t even know how to finish a big project–I seem to specialize in plein air paintings and portraits and nudes from 3-hour sessions–all of which are by some artists considered good only as studies for something bigger.  I’m taking a portrait drawing class with Deirdre Riley at the Institute, and we are working on one charcoal portrait for the last three weeks of 3-hour sessions.  Deirdre asked me last Friday if I wanted to start a new one or try to bring what I already had to a more polished conclusion.  I answered, polished conclusion, because that’s exactly what I don’t know how to do.  The demo by Stephen Assael drove that point  home.  Now there’s a man who knows how to bring a painting to a polished finish!  Every molecule of paint must be in the right spot before he is satisfied.

Next week, I hope to be proudly displaying a charcoal portrait finished to the nth degree of development.  Unfortunately, the usual quickies are all I have to show for this week. I will start with the most polished, which you have seen before, because it deserves a second look without all those annoying light reflections.  This is my third attempt at getting a good photo of it, and I think third time was the charm.

Profile in Red Shirt--Grace

Profile in Red Sweater–Grace

Red Sweater is from the Cameron Bennett workshop, the last one, the interior one.  I’m really liking how the red sweater came out–such a simple thing compared to facial features or even the head wrap, but at least I got it right.

Next is a pair of 6x6s; yes, it’s already time to start on the 6x6s.  Our (Womens Caucus for Art) 6×6 show was held in February, but that show was a postponed version of the November exhibit.  So now we have one again in November and time is running short.

Garden in Prescott Park

Garden in Prescott Park

The Garden is painted from a photo that I took last week at the Prescott Park Arts Festival.  There was no vantage point from which to paint this scene, but I can remember, with the help of my photo, the light that made it so enchanting.

Day One

Day One

The line of children is from a fairly old photograph taken of a granddaughter entering first grade, on that first day.  It caught my fancy one day and I decided it was worth at least a 6×6 format.  I might try to do more with the faces.  I kind of gave up, maybe too soon.  I’m proud of the gestures.

Overlooked in previous weeks–no, not overlooked because I consciously set it aside, let’s say postponed–is another portrait of Fletch.  It may not capture his likeness as well as some others of mine, but I wasn’t focussing on likeness.  I was fresh from the Steve Assael workshop, and my attack on this painting very much reflects the Assael influence.

Fletch under the Assael Influence

Fletch under the Assael Influence

Last, and least (as far as size is concerned) is this portrayal of four little piglets taking a nap at Phoenix Farm when I visited it with Sharon Allen a few months ago.  I was charmed by how they lined up, alternating heads and tails.  These adorable little piggies are probably big porkers by now, being readied for someone’s dinner table.  No Charlotte to save them.

Four little piggies napping

Four little piggies napping

Piggies was painted on a tiny 2-inch by 2-inch canvas.  The painting is destined to be a favor for one guest at a charity event called the Storybook Ball.  East Colony has volunteered to decorate a table for the event, and we chose as our theme the storybook “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White.  (It was my idea.)  Each guest at our table will take away an original 2×2 painting, but that’s only a small piece of the project.  Our table is going to be spectacular rendition of barn and web and spider and all the other characters from the book.  The charity benefiting from all this activity is “CHAD”, or Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings hang in the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter and a poster reproduction hangs in the Currier Museum of Art, also in Manchester.  Reception September 5, 5 to 6 (blessedly short) with the Congresswoman and the artists.

Inadvertently omitted from the above line-up in weeks past was the painting I shipped down to the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island.  And coming up in September is the Boston Arboretum exhibit, which chose one of my paintings for its annual Jamaica Plain Open Studio exhibit, which you would know all about if you were one of my Facebook friends.

Steven Assael workshop, conclusion

This is my third and final installment about the Steven Assael workshop.  The first two installments dealt exclusively with the demo that Steve started as the Monday session, 10 to 5.   I think he liked it so much that he wanted to finish it with the model.  Or perhaps he like US so much he wanted to spend extra days with us.  Or maybe it’s a combination of the two.  He had 16 students in the workshop, two of who are teachers at the Institute.  Most of the rest of the class were young current BFA candidates or youngish BFA graduates from the Institute, but we had one stray up from Delaware (his home base) and Florida (his art college).  Then there were the three of us older figure students, me and my buddies Bea and Elizabeth.  It was a very compatible and committed group of artists.  So maybe he just liked us.

Enough with the progress images of his demo.  Here is the last one that I caught before I had to leave, followed by close ups:

3:50

3:50

3:50 detail-head

3:50 detail-head

3:50 detail-feet

3:50 detail-feet

He dabbed away at that red fabric (a soft shiny material, perhaps silk) from time to time throughout, and the daubs became more purposeful as the end of time neared.  Suddenly, the fabric on the model stand became the fabric in the painting.  Like a hungry, prowling predator, he circles his subject, getting closer and closer until Wham!  there it is captured to perfection, pinned to his canvas.  (I don’t know what predator behaves like that in reality, but doesn’t it sound right?)

When I left at 4:30, he was scrubbing the background.

I hate to follow that with my own pitiful effort  to emulate him.  But I know  you are curious.  Here’s the disaster I spent two days on:

Becky, last version

Becky, last version

I must have wiped that out nine times, trying to find my way.  I refused to let him paint ON my painting, so he painted this as inspiration to get me over whatever was blocking my creativity:

Becky by Assael

Becky by Assael

But it wasn’t the start that I was having trouble with; it was the finish.

Thursday I changed rooms (we had two rooms going with a model in each) to paint Margaret.  Here is my start, before any input from Steve:

Margaret before

Margaret before

Not enough blue!  This time I allowed him to go at it on my painting:

Margaret After

Margaret After

Notice how he lost all my carefully drawn edges?  As he left, he said “Now you can correct the drawing.”  So I corrected the drawing:

Margaret, drawing corrected

Margaret, drawing corrected

And then I added the red lamp to my painting.  When he saw this version and complimented me, I wasn’t sure whether he liked the lamp specifically, but when he later incorporated the red glow in his own painting, I imagined it might have been inspired by my red lamp:

with the red lamp

with the red lamp

Saturday was a day of Drawing with Steven Assael, 9 to 5.  He did not come around to critique or help us, but we could watch what he was up to and ask him questions.  Margaret was our model.  This is Steve’s drawing of Margaret, executed with Stabilo pencils on silverpoint paper:

Margaret by S. Assael

Margaret by S. Assael

Don’t you love the decision to let her stomach disappear into the paper?  And she wasn’t really sitting on her hand.  So what if the likeness isn’t there!  He couldn’t care less about a likeness, although he  usually does get one, even of Margaret.  I have another image to prove that but too tired to add now, which is technically no longer Monday.

This is my portrait of Margaret, in which I really do get her likeness.  I was able to show it to Steve when nine of us went out to dinner with him, and I ended up in the seat next to him.  He liked it, he really liked it!

Margaret, profile, in graphite

Margaret, profile, in graphite and charcoal pencil

Two criticisms that he shared with me:  I should carry the shadows of her jawline and cheekbone into the hair so that the hair does not look so flat.  I will do so when I have a couple of artmaking minutes to put together.  I expect the improvement to be so subtle that you won’t be able to identify it, but you will think it’s better.  It’s also the way he paints–the subtle attention to nuance that brings living flesh and muscle into his painting.

The other criticism had to do with my composition.  I had included Margaret’s breasts, but when they became too prominent in the composition,  I scribbled them out.  However, the scribbles still appeared to be part of the drawing.  In a related point, the design of the hair masses need to be considered, not blindly rendered.

Exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating, inspiring–all that you might expect in seven days with a Master.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bedford Library in Bedford; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (part of the Healing with Art program); and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings are also hanging in the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter.

Steven Assael workshop, cont.

I posted a mid-week report on this figure painting workshop, which you should check out before reading this post.  The workshop was supposed to be five days, from ten a.m. to five p.m.  That schedule was amended at the end of the first day, Monday, because Steve’s demo was turning out so good that he wanted to finish it before he left New Hampshire.  Well, that’s my educated guess as to his motivations, which were really pretty transparent.  First he determined that his model for the demo, Becky, was not available Saturday, so arrangements were made for her to come in Sunday!  Saturday was therefore to be a group drawing day, with Margaret as our model.  Margaret also modeled for the class Tuesday through Thursday.  Monday and Friday and Sunday were given over to the “demo”.  Plus we started at nine a.m. instead of ten, every day after Monday.  I am wiped out and all I had to do was stay awake and focussed.  (If I let my focus wander, I started to nod off.)  Steve seemed to be running low on steam towards the end, but would not stop painting.  Becky was released at 4:00 and I had to leave at 4:30, while Steve was putting finishing touches on the background.  I hope they were the finishing touches.

As a result, I have so much material to show you and discuss that I could probably fill a week of posts.  I will leave my own work out of the discussion for now.

Before the pictures, a commercial:  please go here to vote for my poster if you can.  The top 30 or something vote getters (that actually might be all) go on to another round of voting.  It’s all too complex for my poor tired brain tonight.  Just go there and vote!  (Please)

The following four pictures were taken during the Friday “demo”.

Image 15 Image 14 Image 16 Image 18

The thing to notice about these “progress” pics is that he rather cavalierly blurs previously articulated shapes in the course of finding the hue and value he is looking for.  Also notice how he uses the painting itself as an auxillary palette.  The black and red drapes were added to break up the expanse of blue, but not much attention was given to painting them.  Yet.

The rest of the pictures are from today.  I have captioned each with the time I took the photo to give you some idea of the passage of time between one and another.  You might understand better why it was hard to stay focussed:

10:30

10:30

The first thing he did was get rid of the blue drape altogether by covering it up with a brownish patterned one.  I’m quite sure that if he had another couple of days to work on  this painting, the pattern would be beautifully represented.

11:00

11:00

He cleaned up the background–uh, palette–and placed a red crescent about where the red lamp shone.  Take note of that because I like to think something I did on Thursday may have inspired this bit.

See a little bit of patterning in the brownish drape?  And her face is back–sort of.  The black parabola emerging in the background has us all wondering.  The black drape is so subtly beautiful that I’m afraid you can’t see it.  Steve is a wizard with black.

1:23

1:23

Sunday’s session was supposed to end at one o’clock.  Becky agreed to stay on and, I presume, the Institute agreed to foot the bill.

2:23

2:23

Not quite sure but I think the reflection of the black drape on her back and continuation of the red drape towards the background are new.

I have a few more images that I would like to show you, but I think I have exceeded some kind of daily limit–Wordpress is not accepting any more uploads.  I will try again tomorrow.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bedford Library in Bedford; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (part of the Healing with Art program); and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings are also hanging in the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter.

Review of June’s Poses

On the theory that you can never have too  much of beautiful nudes, here is my entire collection of the Tuesday June poses, two of which you have already seen but through the glare of wet paint.  Margaret times 4:

Margaret-June 2013-#1

Margaret-June 2013-#1

Margaret--June 2013--#2

Margaret–June 2013–#2

Margaret--June 2013--#3

Margaret–June 2013–#3

I still need to finish the background for No. 3, and perhaps bring up her left knee, which for most of the time I could not see at all.  That stool swivels, and it was very difficult to get her back into the exact same position after each break.  In fact, every time she took a deep breath, the stool swiveled a little.

Margaret--June 2013--#4

Margaret–June 2013–#4

No. 4 is obviously unfinished.  We all wanted another session on this pose, but since it was the last one with Margaret for a while, we will all have to wait until the fall to finish it up.  The pose was one inspired by another painting, one that Tony spotted on a magazine.  There’s usually one element of a pose or scene that attracts the eye, and in this case, it’s the curve of the hip.  I spent most of my time working on the hip and legs.  You can tell.  You may also recognize the brown leather sofa.  I should start including “brown leather” as a tag to facilitate a search for all of them.  Will start with this one, but can’t promise to edit all previous ones.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (part of the Healing with Art program); and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings are also hanging in the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter.

She’s Back (More Margaret)

Margaret in a Twist

Margaret in a Twist

June is the month of Margaret, but since we are not meeting on Fridays, we’ll have only the four Tuesday sessions to try to capture her elusive likeness.  (Prior agonies were explored in this blog.) This profile isn’t too bad, but what I was concentrating on was the body–the subtle swellings and shadows that reveal bones and muscle and fat.  Not much fat on Margaret, but that just makes what is there all the more fascinating.  As usual, I enjoyed playing with the colors, exaggerating the warmth that I was seeing in the shadow side.  I see a few things (e.g., the way the chair back comes forward) that I would fix if I thought I’d be showing this anyone, but that’s unlikely to happen.  (I mean in person, not online.)

Saturday, a welcome change of pace:  I took the opportunity to join the NH Plein Air artists in the second annual paint out at the Forbes House Museum in Milton, Massachusetts.  Last year we had lots of sales (commission to benefit the Forbes  House), so we had some hopes for a repeat.  But this year, no bustling crowds.  My theory–everyone had graduations to attend.  Never mind–the weather was outstanding and we were doing what we love to do.  For painting subjects, with the Museum’s encouragement, we left the grounds of the Museum to seek out local water scenes.  My driving companion, Flo Parlangeli, has a connection to water that sets her heart to pounding.  I’m  sorry I didn’t think to take a photo of her painting and her two paintings.  She was painting them both at the same time–one on her easel and one in her lap.  Pretty peculiar, but it was all because she was working in acrylic paint, which dries fast.  The fast drying quality was something Flo was using to her advantage.  She’d let one dry and work on the other, then pick up the first and paint over the previous layer, then repeat with the second one.

Milton Landing

Milton Landing

This was my first one, which I spent about three hours on.  I placed it in an Art Cocoon and to make sure it didn’t flop out, I taped the corners.  But I was careless, and turned it upside down, and the panel did flop out of its bed.  As a result, I lost some of my crisp dark edges at the bottoms of the boats.  I had thick, white paint in those areas that just flattened and spread out over the edges.  I like to paint thick, wet into wet, although there is a limit to how much paint you can pile without losing control of the situation.  I was too close to losing control here even before the accident with the Cocoon.  This also illustrates why Flo was using the fast-drying acrylics.

So Flo was not going anywhere and I was finished with the boats.  I could have taken her car and driven to  another location.  Instead, I set up in a new spot nearby, in the lee of the boat ramp, where I was visited by a family of ducks.   Such as the joys of plein air painting, offsetting the distress caused by wind gusts that try to make off with  umbrella and anything attached to it (like your easel).

Covelet at Milton Landing

Covelet at Milton Landing

I thank you all for your feedback on last week’s project, the lettering for my Live Free poster.  I am still mulling over all the suggestions.   In the meantime, I have covered up “. . . and”.  Some objected to the ellipsis, but it was part of the original challenge–just in reverse order.  I decided to conform to the challenge more literally–when the paint dries, I will paint in letters for “and . . .”  When I complete the project, I will post the final version.  And if I have nothing more interesting to talk about, I will describe all the suggestions I received and reasons why I did or did not take them.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (part of the Healing with Art program) and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings are also hung somewhere in an office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, probably the Manchester one.  Currently, the only location for viewing the nudes is at her studio.

A Month of Beckys

My life is just a little bit crazy right now, what with retirement deadline looming and two major art events coming up next week.  Yet here I am, whiling away the national holiday making good on my promise to post weekly.  It’s a Good Thing though, this weekly blog, perhaps as important as all those other important things.  For however long the internet lasts, it will remind me of where I was on Memorial Day of 2013, just before those three major milestones.

(I’m glad at my age to still be counting milestones other than birthdays!)

So, to get to the point:  Major Art Event No. 1 is taking place this coming Sunday, June 2, in Boston.  From noon until 6 p.m., I with 71 other artists will be participating in the Beacon Hill Art Walk.  It’s not your typical urban art show in that many of the artists will be set up in gardens and on firescapes.  Bruce and I, however, are setting up a conventional tent right at the S(tart) point on Cambridge Street shown on the map here.  I introduced you to Bruce Jones last week as my partner in this Beacon Hill venture.  It’s the first of its kind for both of us, possibly the first of many partnerships if this experience is a happy one.   I’ve decided to go eclectic with my display, meaning a couple of landscapes, a couple of figurative works, and my steam locomotive.

Maine Central No. 501
Side-lined

Engine 501, depicting the real life orphan at the North Conway train station, has been looking for a forever home via the Bartlett Inn for at least a year now.  Maybe Boston will be the place where it comes together with the right guardian.  (For those of you in the dark, “forever home” and “guardian” is animal rescue speak, dear to my heart.)

Major Art Event No. 2:   I am opening at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery.  Some weeks ago I was juried into this artists’ cooperative gallery, located in the Langer Place Building, the very same building where I conduct my figure drawing sessions, and where the Hatfield Gallery is located, where I also exhibit.  Friday I hung six pieces, all of them plein air landscapes.  All are, of course, my favorites.  (But I have more favorites left, to take to Boston.)  My first reception as a member of this gallery takes place on Friday, June 7, from 5 to 7 p.m.  I would love to see all my friends there, cheering me on, especially those (you know who you are) who have complained I don’t do enough to market myself.

Back to the business of Becky:  I have three new paintings to show you, none of them exactly “finished”, but I may not ever touch them again since I got what I needed from my efforts.

In the red sweater

In the red sweater

I love the texture of the bare, clear-primed canvas and so my leaving the background unfinished was a choice.  Nevertheless, it will probably be classified as a work in progress if it survives a few hundred years.  Painting a clothed model was a change of pace, one that I enjoyed very much, but I guess I was in the minority because the following week when Becky asked if we wanted her clothed, the response “No!” rang out.  So I painted this:

The Faraway Gaze

The Faraway Gaze

I couldn’t finish this one simply because of the size of the canvas:  I chose to bring in a 20×16 canvas on stretchers, which I would never use for plein air so why not?   I knew I had better concentrate on the face, then the chest since I could leave the background and the hair to memory or invention or both.  Everyone, including myself, thought my lips (the ones I painted) were great.  What makes them work, though,  is how well I painted the chin and philtrum–lips don’t exist in isolation.  OK, check off lips;  next up is noses.  Her nose here is pretty good, which gives me hope.  Becky’s ear is amazingly simple–most people have complex ears, lots of folds and dips and valleys.  I think I will make Becky’s ear my template for ears so I don’t use up so much time on them.  Nobody really cares what happens inside the ear as long as its placement is correct,  the shape is correct, and the tilt is correct.

DSC_0002

From the large to the small:  this painting is only 10×8 and it felt even smaller to me because I was trying to get the whole figure in.  It’s hard to paint small, I discovered–that little stroke that does the job on a bigger canvas makes a blob on the small canvas, and sometimes wipes out a nuance I had been counting on.  I thought if I went small I would end up with a small, completed jewel of a painting.  Ha!  But this one could be a jewel with just a few corrections here and there, and maybe tomorrow I will get a chance to make those corrections.  That depends on the other members of the gang.  Most will probably prefer to move on to a different pose.  I must say, it was nice to paint the other side of Becky’s face for a change!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (part of the Healing with Art program) and at her studio by appointment.  Through May 31, nine of her Boston Arboretum paintings are on display at the Leach Library in Londonderry, NH.  On Sunday, June 2, she will be participating in the Beacon Hill Art Walk, in Boston.

The Joy of Completion

Detail from Portrait of Grace

Detail from Portrait of Grace

The “Joy of Finishing” was my first thought for the title to this posting, but “Completion” is  better.  And not just because “completion” brings with it  fewer double entendres.   You could “finish” or come to an end of a project without being satisfied with it.  “Completion” connotes a goal achieved.  I could go further in this amusing wordplay by comparing “accomplished” as in “mission accomplished”, but that could get raw.

This week, therefore, I celebrate three completions.  Last week you saw the intermediate stages of two of them, so you have some idea of what to expect.  Above is the detail from the bigger one.  I said I wanted to make the background from the colors of the headscarf and whaddya know–I did!

Portrait of Grace

Portrait of Grace

Grace did not realize we wanted to repeat the pose from last week, so she arrived with a different scarf, wearing different earrings, and carrying a different drape.  Just as well–three elements were thus eliminated that I might have spent valuable time on.

This is a pretty good likeness of Grace, but of course, profiles are so much easier than 3/4 or full facial views.  Have I mentioned that before?  I hate to repeat myself, especially when the point is obvious when you think about it:  matching up eyes, eyebrows, lids, etc., etc., especially in the 3/4 view where the shadows make them look different, is really, really tricky.  Also, faces are not symmetrical, so too much matchy-matchy would be wrong.  Given all that, trying to figure out where the eye on the left should be higher or the one on the right should be lower can give me headache sometimes.  No, all the time.

The other just-short-of-finished figure from last week came out OK.  I think I messed around a little with the face, to no good purpose, but the main focus was the hand.  Now shorter, narrower, and with a hint of finger structure, this hand no longer detracts from the painting as a whole.

Figure Study (M on BLS)

Figure Study (M on BLS)

However, the face is not that of Margaret, so I moved in closer, metaphorically, on a second sheet of canvas:

Portrait of Margaret

Portrait of Margaret

Still not Margaret.  If I had had more time, I would have lengthened the nose perhaps.  Or shortened it.  But it’s hard to say what exactly is wrong.  Peter Clive said, “Margaret is elusive.”  I called her “sneaky”.  (Which I think she appreciated.)  Likeness or not, this painting came out well.  What do you think of the background?  I was thinking of light through thick green glass, but chose not to take that concept all the way–it was just my inspiration.

You might notice that the head is tilted differently in the second attempt.  It’s just impossible to keep a head from moving.  If I were alone, and were painting a portrait, I could keep telling the model how to adjust her attitude, but when painting the entire figure, there is so much to keep aligned that you tend not to trust  your opinion about where the head should be–especially if changing it might decimate a colleague who thought he had it right.  (I apologize for the long sentence but couldn’t find a spot to break it up.)  Still and all, frustrating as it is, I would not trade it for drawing from a plaster cast of a head, illuminated by a steady, never varying spotlight.  The harder it is, the more ways we learn.  I hope.  I sure hope so.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.  Beginning May 1 through May 30, nine of her Boston Arboretum paintings will be displayed at the Leach Library in Londonderry, NH.  On Saturday and Sunday May 4-5, she will be exhibiting and demonstrating at the Londonderry annual event “Art in Action”; the location of Art in Action will be the large farmstand operated by Mack’s Apples, 230 Mammoth Road in Londonderry.

Race up Mount Washington

I’m sharing with you this week a magnum opus WIP (work in progress) that has been in progress for over a year now.  It’s not that I’m lazy, at least I don’t think so.  Or that I have too many other projects going.    I just stopped working on it for many months, waiting for my desire to finish it to return.  I explained this in my blog of a few weeks ago, here if you want to read it.

Usually, I am fast to paint and perhaps too fast to declare my painting done.  I don’t have time to get bored or the scope to get intimidated.  But I almost always have one big painting in the works, and it usually takes me a month or two to work out the problems and declare it finished.  This one has been a totally different experience.  It has intimidated me with its scope, size and complexity.  I now have barely got all the canvas covered, and am only beginning to try to pull it all together as a whole.

Mt. Washington Phase 4

Mt. Washington Phase 4

No smart aleck mountaineer (my son) has yet asked, but perhaps I should make it clear that I am not going for accuracy in the configuration of the mountain ranges depicted.  The people are, however, based on real people whom I observed at the 2011 Race to the top of Mount Washington.  From the hundreds of photos that I took while waiting for my son to finish (33d–that’s really good!), I picked out some vignettes to incorporate in this panoramic scene.  I have drawn and/or painted most of them before I started on the present mammoth.  (OK, it’s 30×40, not really mammoth, but quite big for me.)  Here are my studies, in no particular order:

Fans

Fans

Awaiting the Stragglers

Awaiting the Stragglers (3-legged dog)

View of race with vista

View of race with vista

Whew!

Whew! (a top female finisher)